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Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Hardcover – October 3, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Author One-on-One: Jerry Pinkney and Andrea Davis Pinkney
Jerry Pinkey

Andrea Davis Pinkey: Jerry, let me say right off that I was delighted to be asked to have this dialogue with you. Even as your daughter-in-law, I'm still one of your biggest fans. Although we talk frequently, it's hard to keep up with all of the wonderful things you're doing. So the chance to take a moment to connect is a true pleasure.

Jerry Pinkey: Thank you, Andrea. I’ve been a fan of yours as well. You’ve added your own unique voice to this magical publishing world.

Andrea: In the time I've known you, I've marveled at your creative process, which, over the course of your fifty-year career, seems ever-evolving. Is there a "typical" time frame for illustrating each of your books? How long does it take to create all of the art for a story?

Jerry: In the past, most of my projects took about six months from start to finish. However, these days it’s much harder to stick to that time frame because of the nature of the books I’m focusing on. I strive to select projects that offer that “mysterious something” that gives the book the potential to grow and evolve during the creative process, while I’m trying to find the right direction for it. I initiate many of my new book projects by working with my editors, which provides me with more room to stretch ideas. I’ve discovered that it doesn’t necessarily mean more time at my drawing board, but more time for concepts to percolate and take shape. As a result I’ve been completing about one book per year.

Andrea: One of the aspects of your books that I love is that they include so much visual storytelling. To me, it seems that you’re thinking very carefully about the compositions and characterizations. Do you sketch a lot of rough drafts before starting your paintings?

Jerry: Yes, the number of exploratory drawings seems to grow by great measure with each new project. These early sketches are a way of exploring and searching for a sequence and rhythm. I’m also considering the relationship of art to text and how to visually interpret the story. At this stage, composition often evolves. I quite enjoy seeing how many ways I can view a subject or action by turning something inside out. As the drawings develop I think about the characterizations, not necessarily in facial expressions yet, but though body language. When I’m satisfied with the right amount of pictures to tell a story, as well as the trim size, I prepare a dummy book .Then I rework and refine these drawings. Recent projects have required two revised dummy books before proceeding to the final art.

Andrea Davis Pinkey

Andrea: What’s your favorite part of the process of making a new book? Are there some aspects that are easier? Where do the challenges lie?

Jerry: When adapting a project that has been illustrated many times before, I have to find that fresh perspective, a new lens that allows me to take ownership in re-imagining a narrative. For me, this part of the project could best be described as a roller coaster ride, with a pushing and pulling to get me to a place where ideas will gel. This stage can be exhilarating and frustrating. I see what I do as work. If it appears to be easy, I know that I’m not reaching deep enough into my imagination pool. However, after I get to the point where the final art satisfies the needs of the text, then it’s my time to play, adding more detail here and more contrast there until the painting takes on a life of its own.

Andrea: You have a new book coming out this October, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, a visual depiction of the classic lullaby. I’ve just received a copy, and the book is gorgeous! I guess it would be corny to say that the paintings twinkle, but it’s true -- the illustrations seem to illuminate the paper they’re printed on. What led to your inspiration for turning this song, which his sung to every child, into a picture book?

Jerry: The idea was presented to me by Andrea Spooner, my editor at Little, Brown. She asked if I would consider creating a bedtime book. She encouraged me to think in terms of an entirely different approach, an original visual narrative--“a flight of the imagination”--using the lyrics of a lullaby as a kind of “soundtrack”. I was inspired to stretch my imagination, and so we researched various bedtime stories, songs and poems to consider that are in the public domain. It took exploring and dissecting other classic lullabies before I turned back to Twinkle, Twinkle, and eventually, the song took center stage. With that decision I began to search for the spark that would set my creative juices flowing.

Andrea: In some respects, illustrating a lullaby would seem simple because you can choose to interpret the lyrics any way you wish. It would appear that this freedom is a gift to an artist. At the same time, though, because there’s no concrete storyline, a lullaby presents challenges. Can you describe some of the challenges you worked through in creating pictures that express such open-ended lyrics? Also, what were some of the freer aspects?

Jerry: Most narratives have a beginning, middle, and end as well as some sense of place. This wasn’t the case with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Yet, it was at the top of Andrea Spooner’s list because it was so open-ended. It was the lack of being able to rely on a literal interpretation that would become a starting point to revisiting this classic. My “a-ha” moment came with the line in the refrain, “How I wonder what you are.” I would attempt to answer that question in my art.

Andrea: Is there a reason you made the main character a chipmunk?

Jerry: I’ve been fascinated with chipmunks ever since our family moved to a wooded area in Westchester County. My home and studio look out on stone walls where chipmunks nest. I’ve watched as they dart in and out, oftentimes wondering where they were off to in such a purposeful way. What were they in search of? Intrigued and amused, I’d often thought about working on a project about my furry neighbors. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star gave me that opportunity to cast the chipmunk in the lead role. The chipmunk’s boundless energy would be interpreted as the curiosity that leads him to search for the little star.

Andrea: Most illustrators conduct research for their books, even when the narrative is whimsical. What resources did you use to help you illustrate the animals and setting for Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star?

Jerry: Research for the chipmunk and supporting characters wasn’t difficult. There are a large number of volumes and films in my personal library. Also I made good use of the Croton Free Library and The Tea Town Nature Conservation Center, where I was able to take out a chipmunk mount on loan. No photo can take the place of drawing the real creature. Like the library, the staff at Tea Town was generous with their time in assisting me in getting the wildlife and their environment just right.

I rarely use the Internet for research, but in this case it was helpful in providing me ideas for star shapes in nature which could be woven into my intended narrative. For example, the star shape designs of morning glories were used to set into motion the chipmunk’s journey. My personal observations also played a major role in the book. Many days standing in the fields behind our home at dusk, I waited and watched for that magical moment when the fireflies would appear.

Andrea: Research aside, your illustrations of animals are often playful -- they exude such joy! Where do you derive the inspiration for bringing such genuine cuteness to your animal paintings?

Jerry: During my frequent walks in the nearby woods I watch wildlife, such as a red fox crossing the road or a deer bounding out of sight. Some days it feels like the animals and I are communicating for a brief moment, and there’s an overwhelming sense of being at one with nature. These moments serve as my inspiration. In my works where the animal is a stand-in for a human, it’s about striking the balance between the natural beauty of a creature, and my need to personify the animal to fit the narrative.

Andrea: Jerry, so many of us are still thrilled about the success of your Caldecott-winning picture book The Lion and the Mouse. I’ve always thought of you as my “Daddy Lion” -- you’re a mighty great man, and the book just proves that you’re a mighty great artist. In The Lion and the Mouse, you rely on art more than text to tell the story. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of storytelling?

Jerry: Because The Lion and the Mouse did not begin as a wordless picture book, I was blind to its challenges. My intent was to develop a visual storyboard for the fable. Then I planned to add text once I was satisfied with my sketches. It was only after working on thumbnails that I began asking myself, “Isa text going to enhance the narrative, or just be redundant?” The pictures seemed to find their own voice; that’s when my creative process is at its best. So I didn’t really have to consider the advantages and disadvantages of doing it one way or the other. For me, it’s all about discovery, following notions, and letting them be my guide.

Andrea: This has been quite an amazing time for you! You’ve won the Caldecott Medal, which was a very sweet cherry on top of a cake that already includes five Caldecott Honor medals, five Coretta Scott King Awards, and four Coretta Scott King Honor medals. And, you were recently inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. Wow, Daddy Lion, that quite a list of accolades! What’s next for you?

Jerry: My mind is always at work revisiting childhood stories and memories to see if there is something to jump-start a new project. Right now I’m working on two new projects which I’m adapting. As long as subjects inspire me and as long as I’m curious, there will be stories for me to reinterpret. Here in my studio there are plenty of blank sheets of paper and sketchpads waiting to be filled.

Andrea: Well, that’s certainly enough to keep your plate full. Thanks for being the mighty illustrator you are!


A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2011
A National Parenting Publications Awards Gold Winner
An Amazon Best Book of the Month Selection (October)
An Amazon Top Ten Picture Book of 2011
A University of Wisconsin-Madison CCBC 2012 Children's Choices Book
A 2012 Bank Street College Children's Book Committee Outstanding Book

* "Pinkney's sumptuous elaboration of the familiar lullaby...takes on the same epic scope as his Caldecott winning The Lion and the Mouse.... Just another superb outing from a fixed star twinkling in the children's literature firmament."―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "From jacket to cover to endpapers, every element in the book contributes to the dreamlike vision of a curious adventurer exploring the natural world. This appropriate theme for young children finds expression in a series of vividly imagined, gracefully composed, and beautifully detailed illustrations."―Booklist, starred review

* "A stellar performance from a book-making virtuoso."―School Library Journal, starred review

"Pinkney's lush artwork is simultaneously naturalistic and whimsical.... [His] flora and fauna are exquisite, as is his palette, dominated by rich earth tones and brilliant blues. Soothing and magical, this one should conjure some sweet dreams."―Publishers Weekly

"Pinkney... brings a... sumptuous, color-saturated aesthetic to this reimagining of the familiar bedtime lullaby.... a free-form journey from woodland to dreamland."―The New York Times

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 - 5 years
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (October 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316056960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316056960
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on October 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Over the years there have been quite a number of children's books that have used the beloved rhyme, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star as a theme. To be quite frank, it is no worse for wear because of it. There is something so simple and yet so profound about this little song that it has endured generation after generation and continues to delight all of us even to this day.

Jerry Pinkney, who just happens to be one of my favorite children's authors and one of my top five or six favorite illustrators of children's books has outdone himself with this one - if that is possible. Using a little chipmunk as his central character, keeping the story completely in a natural setting, and smoothly shifting from reality (A nice reality in this case) in to a dream-life fantasy world, has made this new offering almost a perfect bedtime story for the little ones.

The text here is simply and will be almost universally recognized. Pinkney has uses the lyrics for Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star with only one or two very minor variations (Had the author not pointed them out in the book, I would not have even been aware of them), to take a little chipmunk from the wakened world, moved him skillfully through to the edge of and then the final step of a blissful dream-like sleep. Yes, the words are familiar but then my goodness...we have the art!

The artist has used a combination of watercolor, pencil and colored pencils probably as skillfully and effectively (and more so) than I have ever seen executed. Each frame consists of scenes taken straight from the wild; from nature and the softness he has achieved while staying true to his subject is rather remarkable.
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Format: Hardcover
Beautiful illustrations pair with gentle verses from this favorite lullaby. Images from dawn and night capture the young viewer, as a squirrel takes off on a night-time journey of dreams, only to awake in the morning. Spaced out text, with pages full of only illustrations, allow the reader to do some storytelling of his or her own, while reading this book. Children ages 2-5 will love this dreamy book, especially for its illustrations.
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Format: Hardcover
Once again, Jerry Pinkney brings a new version of an old classic to young readers with his picture book "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

Based on the poem written by sisters Ann and Jane Taylor in 1806, Pinkney tells the tale of a chipmunk that leaves his nest to greet the twilight and ends up on an adventure of his own. Pinkney strays only slightly from the text, changing a few words for rhythm and the setting.

As with his other books, Pinkney's illustrations in "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" are lush and detailed. Pinkney allowed himself to be swept up in the wonderment of these simple verses and it shows. This beautiful book will appeal to pre-readers and beginners alike. Interesting illustrations will keep children engaged throughout and set just the right stage for bedtime.
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Format: Board book Verified Purchase
I purchased this for a baby gift and it's super cute. The board book format is well made and seems like it will definitely hold up. The images are bright and very fun. I think that this will definitely be a baby favorite.
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A wonderful book for children with some of the most beautiful illustrations I have seen in a children's book in a long time. This was a gift for a little boy who left his Thomas the Train book to have it read for him. So, actually this review is for him. The art is magical and the story wonderful.
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This is an extraordinarily beautiful book for toddlers with gorgeous art depicting one of childhood's most beloved songs. Because this is a favorite song of the special toddler in my life, I bought it as a special gift to explore on his first long plane ride. His mommy and daddy were able to read the book with him, discuss the art and finish off with singing each page until he curled up to nap while winging above half the country. Fellow passengers were impressed with how it held his attention and his parents' soft singing was a calm and gentle passage to restful nap time while on board. Voila! No annoyed fellow travelers and one happy little boy.
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The beautiful illustrations in this book create a dreamy and imaginative reading experience for children and adults. There is so much more to a book than just words on a page and this one draws the reader into its story with a blend of art and poetry.
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This book is absolutely beautiful! The illustrations are wonderful and our 15 month old daughter just likes to look at all the pages. There are several pages that don't even have text on them, but I think that will be great as she gets older and we can encourage her to describe what is happening in the story (using her imagination, which is great!)! This is one of those books you want to put away in their baby box to keep forever and pass it down the generations, but at the same time want to keep out to read before bed every night! Maybe we'll have to buy another copy! Recommend it for toddlers and older! Really beautiful book!
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