I think most of you who frequent our pages regularly know that I love books with illustrations, so my recommendation today should be no surprise. The Fox and the Star, by Coralie Bickford-Smith is one of those gorgeous books that I hope everyone with a child will buy. Don’t get me wrong, adults will love this book too (I’m having a little trouble letting go of my copy!), but this is the kind of book that children will remember having when they’re adults.
First of all, it has the most beautiful cloth cover. I vividly recall every book I had as a child with a cloth cover. Little fingers love to stroke the slightly rough canvas and it creates a tactile memory that can’t be easily erased. It’s a cool size too. It’s big, but it’s tall (vertically speaking) and has a bit of a “grown up” feel to it, even though it’s perfectly whimsical. Needless to say, the inside is gorgeous as well. I’ve included some of the illustrations in this post, so you get a taste of how lovely the illustrations are. It’s no surprise that this book is outstandingly well made, Bickford-Smith works as an in-house designer at Penguin and designed the “Clothbound Classics” series, among others.
Once there was a Fox who lived in a deep, dense forest. For as long as Fox could remember, his only friend had been Star, who lit the forest paths each night. But then one night Star was not there, and Fox had to face the forest all alone and learns to embrace life and the world around us.
But a beautiful book, with lovely illustrations won’t cover up a lackluster story, we all know that. Luckily, this is one of the most moving children’s books I’ve ever read. The story is about a little fox who has a star for a friend. As long as Fox can see Star, he’s reassured that someone cares for him. Then one night Star doesn’t appear and Fox must go looking for his companion. Some people have called this journey a metaphor for depression/anxiety/mental illness and I can definitely see that line of thinking. It’s also a touching reminder of how friendship changes us and reassures us, even when times are difficult.
The illustrations are simply put, lush. Bickford-Smith is a master of the repeating pattern and the amount of detail in each image is stunning. But it’s more than just good design. The repeating images reinforce the notion that though the Fox feels alone, he is actually surround by so much more than the star. When he goes out into the world, the repeating patters of flora and fauna surround him, reminding Fox that even when he feels alone, he isn’t. I especially love the message that Fox gets at the end to “Look up beyond your ears.” This book is a beautiful reminder that we’re a part of things, even when we feel lonely.
I think that children will like this book no matter what they’ve got going on (it’s that pretty!), but I do believe that for a kiddo going through a tough time, The Fox and the Star would be especially comforting. I had a book like this when I was a kid, Diane Stanley’s illustrated version of Fiddle-I-Fee (which is out of print, I’m sorry to say!). From its cloth bound cover, to its reassuring storyline, it made a very tough time for me as a little kid a lot better. To this day, I can take it off my shelf and just the feel of the cover makes me feel loved. I think The Fox and the Star could be that kind of book for some children.
If you’ve got little ones, The Fox and the Star is a must-have. But even if you don’t have a wee one, I think lovers of illustration, design and a comforting story will be fans of this book. Now let’s look at some pictures!
Allison Carr Waechter promises that she’s still reading books with words, despite her last few recommendations.