From School Library Journal
K-Gr 3–Schwartz and Swarner have created another beautiful picture book based on Jewish folklore. The narration begins when “you” ask “your grandfather” about the origin of the stars. He responds that before people were created, God sent ships carrying light sailing across the sky. These fragile vessels broke apart, scattering their precious cargo across the Earth and sky. It is the job of the human race to gather the “sparks of light” and restore them to their proper place by doing acts of kindness and love. An endnote explains that the story is based on a Jewish myth, and although the author refers to “God,” there is no reference in the story to a specific religion. Schwartz's language is simple, personal, and poetic, and his use of the second person adds a sense of intimacy. The text is printed in a large attractive font on top of the full-spread, full-color illustrations, sometimes black on light, sometimes white on dark. Swarner's stylized, painterly artwork is soft and gentle and complements the peaceful mood of the text. The rich, textured greens of the grass and trees and the deep speckled blues of the sky contrast with the soft radiance of the child's and grandfather's faces. This is a handsome book with a timeless message.Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
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A man and his grandchild go outside to look at the stars. Before the world began, Grandfather explains, God sent 10 vessels carrying light across the sky. If they had stayed intact, “the world would have been perfect,” but they became increasingly fragile and broke apart. Most of the light they carried formed the stars, but some sparks were lost. People’s love and good deeds have the power to release the hidden sparks, which rise up to restore the broken vessels and mend the world. An appended note explains the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, which is based on a sixteenth-century rabbi’s teachings. From the opening narrative framework of grandfather and grandchild, the traditional story flows easily, then ebbs back, drawing the concepts of kindness and love into the child’s own experiences. The artwork creates mysterious effects, with hazy textures and muted colors that seem to glow with their own soft light. A quietly lovely picture book from the author and illustrator of Before You Were Born (2005). Preschool-Grade 3. --Carolyn Phelan