Bunny and Dog live on opposite sides of the fence. Bunny’s house, fur and possessions are various shades of blue, Dog’s are red. Bunny likes cocoa and planting carrots. Dog likes biscuits and hiding his ball. They peek at each other through the fences. Both go to bed with their respective favourite snacks and read, and as they do, they check to see if the lights are on in one another’s houses. The seasons pass, but neither one says hello…until the night both open their doors to get a good look at a shooting star.
Originally from New York, Amy Hest is a prolific author with more than thirty books to her name, including When Jessie Came Across the Sea, Are You Sure, Mother Bear?, Buster and the Baby and Charley’s First Night. A former children’s librarian, she often writes stories set in her home state, but to all intents and purposes Shooting Star would be an exception – it could be set anywhere, and the themes explored in the story, namely loneliness and trying to initiate friendships, are definitely easy for children to relate to at any age.
Hest’s brief but engaging prose is complimented beautifully by the illustrations of Jenni Desmond, an East London-based graduate of the Cambridge School of Art. Desmond has previously the winner of the Cambridgeshire Read it Again! Award for her debut Red Cat, Blue Cat in 2012. Subsequently she was made a Maurice Sendak fellow in 2016, and her books, including the New York Times bestseller The Polar Bear, have been translated into more than twenty languages. Her illustrations in Shooting Star are bright and eye catching, even the scenes set at night time which is quite an achievement. Most notable are her renderings of the respective homes of the two creatures – even Bunny’s fur is periwinkle-coloured, while Dog’s is terracotta, emphasising how well both fit into their respective surroundings.
Shooting Star is sparse on prose but still gets its message across loud and clear, and will be enjoyed by children for generations to come.
Images courtesy of Walker Books, who have published On the Night of the Shooting Star by Amy Hest and Jenni Desmond.
On the Night of the Shooting Star is out now on Walker Books