Bright Star, a powerful, radiant picture book by Pura Belpré Award winner and Caldecott honoree Yuyi Morales (Dreamers), begins with an eager observation: "Child, you are awake!"
A doe sees that her fawn has opened her eyes. After allowing the fawn to wake gently, the mother coaxes her babe into getting ready for the day as if it's a celebration: "You are ALIVE! You are a bright star inside our hearts." Then, with a cry of "Vámonos!" they are ready to go. The pair walk through the desert and on every page, new animals join them. The passage turns dangerous as they reach a cement wall topped with barbed wire--a wall that impedes the migration patterns of many animals. The soft earth tones and golds of the day are traded for marbled grays with cool splashes of a starry sky. Though predatory animals have come out, they are there to protect the animals who can't protect themselves.
Morales pairs sparse but evocative language with dream-like illustrations made with acrylic paint on paper, photographed textures, digital painting, weaving and embroidery. Every sentence is an encouraging caress and reminder to children that "we"--loved ones, caretakers, allies--"are here to protect you." She fills each page with magnificent creatures, and her use of light ignites the images with the warmth of the sun or the gentle glow of the moon. Despite the grueling metaphor of desert migration, and an allegory for human immigration, Morales's words have a susurrating effect that lets readers know there is a new day ahead. Bright Star is a marvel and a masterpiece, both a lullaby and a cry for survival. --Zoraida Córdova, author and freelance book reviewer