Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ah, The Smell of a New Book--Stella's Starliner

After drooling over Stella's Starliner by Rosemary Wells since the beginning of the summer, I finally decided to purchase it the other day, while out shopping. 

The book kept calling my name every time I was in earshot.  It told me it was meant for me, that it was written for me.  How often does that happen?  How could I say no?  When a book grabs your heart in such a personal way, and has such a learning message to children and adults, it's tough to walk away. 
The main character, Stella, lives in a mobile home, as do I.
Stella gets teased by a gang of weasels, as do I. (well, I'm not teased by weasels, but I do hear what some people have to say about mobile homes and those who live in them).
When these gum snapping, bike riding weasels give Stella a hard time about her house she feels so awful that she hesitates to share the "stinging words" even with her mother.  And I love the brilliant illustration technique on the following pages, with the use of the silvery, shadowy weasels to show that they still linger in Stella's mind.
But in the end it all works out because Stella's father and mother have a surprise for her.  I won't spoil the ending, but I will say they don't get a new house, (and I mean, why would they?  They love their little starliner, it has everything they need!)  but they do make a fresh start and Stella learns that it doesn't matter what kind of a house you live in, "East, West Home is Best". 
One of the reasons I love this book is because I can totally identify with Stella, and I am sure there are many children who can identify with her as well.  Like I said before, I have had stinging comments said to me about our mobile home. There have been people who have said, "well, maybe someday you can get a real house", or "you really need to get out of that trailer".  But you know, we kind of love our little house.  It's not so big that it's a pain to keep clean, it has high ceilings, is more spacious than you would think with it's big kitchen, bedroom and laundry room.  We even have a small library room, a large yard, and two small flower gardens.
Even though there have been some days when I've felt the walls closing in on me a bit, and even though there have been times I've had a few items fall on top of my head as I open a jammed-packed closet door, I still love it.   And just like Stella's Starliner, our little mobile home has everything we need.  
Another reason I love this book is because it is written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells.
The illustrations are fantastic with their silver papers and starry skies.  I like the use of "vintage" items:  a vintage radio that looks like it could be picking up an episode of Fibber McGee and Molly, a vintage pickup truck, and vintage lawn chairs.  It's one of those books that I can look through over and over and still see something in a different way or something I hadn't seen before.  And I LOVE that Stella gets excited when the bookmobile comes!  Hooray for bookmobiles!  So far, Stella's Starliner is my top choice for the next Caldecott Medal. 

That's all for today.  Until another time, have a happy, vintage day!

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