Stars of Wonder: Wonderful Children’s Reading! My Book Review, as it Appears in the New York Journal of Books.

Stars of Wonder: A Children’s Christmas Adventure

Image of Stars of Wonder: A Children's Christmas Adventure

Author(s): Rebecca Dwight BruffRelease Date: November 23, 2020Publisher/Imprint: Berret-KoehlerPages: 62Buy on AmazonReviewed by: Claire Fullerton

“a heart-warming story full of charm and optimism; a wonderous journey that transcends the celebration of Christmas with breathtaking illustrations throughout.”

Stars of Wonder: A Children’s Christmas Adventure is delightfully representative of life’s sacred journey as seen through the eager hearts of four royal siblings who live in a land far, far away.

Respectful of their loving parents, princes Jonah, Nathan, and Jacob lie on a blanket beside their parents and sister Phoebe, gazing at the heavens and whispering because “the soft winds and the calls of the owls and the sound of the waves created such beautiful music.” When a bright new star is spotted, the family is intrigued, and when Phoebe overhears her father remark, “I think—no, I believe that this fine bright star is leading the way to a new King, the greatest king the world has ever known,” the royal children conspire to set out on a brave adventure to meet the new king. Enlisting their friend Sumar, who knows about the care and maintenance of camels, the royal siblings set out from their village on a three-day journey but make the tactical error of not telling their parents because they don’t want them to worry.

It is a journey fraught with teachable moments. While resting overnight in the desert, the party is ambushed by three mountain lions and “The princess and Sumar and the three princely brothers all jumped to their feet, filled with both fear and courage, because it is true that fear and courage often happen together.” The lurking mountain lion illustration interjected at this moment is both fearsome and beautiful, with jewel tones encased in rich texture that make the predator something worth petting. 

While Jasmine the camel heals from a lion’s scratch, it is decided the three princes will journey on to the palace they spy on the hill to ask about the distance to the new king, while Phoebe and Sumar stay with the camel. When old and wrinkly Nana Anna appears to Phoebe and Sumar, she reveals that she, too, is on a journey to see the new king because “No matter a person’s age, or size, or personality, or where they were from, or what language they spoke, or food they liked, the bright star in the sky was important to everyone.” When Phoebe admires the bracelet on Nana Anna, the wise woman gifts it to her and describes the symbolic meaning of each colorful bead, all of which serve to remind that “life is grand and love is real and beauty is everywhere.”

Separated from Sumar and their sister, the three princes spend the night at the palace of  grumpy and cranky King Herod, whom, they suspect, is not trustworthy, though he is hospitable. In describing the king, Prince Nathan says he is nefarious, and the conversation that ensues regarding the word leads to the merits of a good vocabulary. The brothers’ journey on until they come to their final destination, where “The man with the gentle eyes spoke very quietly. This is Mary, and I am Joseph, and this little one we call Jesus.” Mary, upon hearing of nefarious King Herod, counsels, “you definitely do not have to do what a nefarious person tells you to do. If you get that untrustworthy feeling about someone, you must trust your own feelings. They are called instincts.”

After visiting with Mary and Joseph and Jesus, the princes return to the place where they left Phoebe and Sumar to discover their parents, Sumar’s father, and Nana Anna are assembled. As the siblings recount their adventure, Phoebe quotes Nana Anna in saying, “Life is grand, and love is real, and beauty is everywhere!” 

“I saw that in our journey together,” said Prince Jonah.

“I saw it in our care for each other,” said Prince Nathan

“I see it now in our parents love and our friendship,” said Sumar.

“I see it everywhere I look!” said Phoebe.

Stars of Wonder: A Children’s Christmas Adventure teaches poignant lessons. Good decisions, perfect love, insecurity, challenging moments, care for animals, and disagreements are brought to the fore, and in perfectly placed prompts, the reader is asked what they’d do. It is a heart-warming story full of charm and optimism; a wonderous journey that transcends the celebration of Christmas with breathtaking illustrations throughout.   

Claire Fullerton’s most recent novels are Little Tea and multiple award winner, Mourning Dove. Honors include the Independent Book Publishers Book Award Silver Medal for Regional Fiction, the Reader’s Favorite for Southern Fiction Bronze Medal and various other literary awards.

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