In Starcrossed, a dreamlike tale of wonder illustrated in stunning watercolor and mixed media, Julia Denos (Windows; Just Being Jackie) captures the limitless potential of friendship.

Earthbound Eridani is a human "student... of the stars" made "of blood and bones" while her best friend, Acamar, is "made of space and stars," more "a constellation than a boy." Every night, they speak to one another across land and sky. One evening, the two children realize that they long to experience the other's world: Acamar "wanted to be down in the sand" and Eridani "wanted to be up in the stars." Most importantly, perhaps, both children want to be physically near the other. With great anticipation of finally sharing planes, "Eridani wished on Acamar. And Acamar wished on Eridani." ("Don't peek or it won't work!" cries Acamar "I won't!" responds Eridani). Both children get their wish.

Denos's watercolor, India ink, salt, graphite, pastels and digital paint illustrations are rapturous, featuring stunning hues of rich blue, green and purple that swirl across double-page spreads and bleed off the page into the starry night. Intentional bits of humor and delight, including a pet dog that follows from page to page, maintain a hopeful feeling, even as the children deal with old feelings--longing, loneliness--from new perspectives.

In the author's note, Denos reveals that the characters are based on Eridanus, a constellation whose brightest star, Acamar, is a binary star, two stars "gravitationally bound to one another--not touching, yet making a singular, brilliant light." It's an elegant explanation for this heavenly picture book, an astronomical take on "The Gift of the Magi." --Kieran Slattery, freelance reviewer, teacher, and co-creator, Gender Inclusive Classrooms

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