Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler

Ibi Zoboi (The People Remember; American Street) pays radiant homage in Star Child to the woman who inspired her, taught her and shared her birthday. She deftly combines poetry, prose, quotes and photos to create what she calls the "constellation" of science fiction writer Octavia Estelle Butler: "I decided to call this biography a constellation because Octavia's mind and her imagination were truly complex wonders--bright and far-reaching." Through this visionary approach, Zoboi ensures that Butler's light will reach young readers.

Butler's life spanned the Space Race, the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement. Zoboi weaves these events, using astronomy-laden imagery, into Butler's experience as the only daughter of a widowed domestic worker. She was a shy, dyslexic child who loved stories but struggled learning to read, the letters appearing "messy on the page/ Like rotating planets without axes/ Sideways like Uranus." Zoboi's appreciation for Butler's willingness to be different--to blaze her own path--shows on each page, through every poem and choice of quote. "At the time all the [pulp] authors were white men, but Octavia was so enthralled by science fiction, she imagined herself, a little black girl, as the hero in all the stories." This imagination enabled Butler to help other readers see themselves as the heroes, too.

Star Child immortalizes Butler as the innovative thinker and writer that she was. It illustrates each star that makes up the constellation of her life: her experiences, her creativity, her intelligence, the world she lived in. Readers shouldn't be surprised to find their own worlds feeling a little brighter from this exposure to her brilliance. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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