Title: The Star Tree
Written and illustrated by Catherine Hyde
Published by Frances Lincoln/Quarto Kids
Publication date: 4 August 2016
I have to confess that I'm a bit biased when it comes to Catherine Hyde's work. She illustrated my 2010 version of Firebird, which earned us some fantastic reviews and an Aesop Accolade in the US.
Catherine had already illustrated Carol Ann Duffy's The Princess' Blankets before she worked with me and she went on to team up with Jackie Morris for Evie in the Wild Wood. This, however, is the first book that she has written and illustrated herself.
Here is a dreamy, lyrical story of a girl who makes a wish on the moon. It is midnight on midsummer's eve, a time when all wishes come true. And so starts a magical picaresque journey that will take Miranda from her warm seaside home to the frozen North where the fabulous star tree grows. She is helped on her way by magical creatures of the night: an owl, a hare, a bear, a stag and finally a silver-feathered goose. Will she find the magical star tree?
Catherine Hyde's pictures are always mesmerising and here she employs a pontillist style to great effect, giving the book a very organic feel. It feels almost like some of the pictures formed naturally on the page, like lichen patterns on old stone or cherry blossom petals on a late-spring lawn. The text, almost a poem, is carefully crafted, inviting you to turn the page and accompany Miranda on her enchanted journey.
All in all this is a wonderful bedtime treat you would want to revisit again and again, both for the story and the enticing pictures.
Saviour Pirotta's next book Ballet Stories for Young Children will be published by Orchard in October 2016.
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