Shine! by Patrick McDonnell, Naoko Stoop
on April 25th 2017
Genres: Children's Books
Format: Picture Books
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Hoshi the sea star looks up in the sky and sees the stars shining. She wishes that she too could be in the sky amongst the brilliant stars--and as she imagines how much better it would be up in the air, she fails to appreciate the beautiful world that surrounds her underwater. It takes Hoshi's friends, old and new, to help her realize that her shine comes from within.
Do you have a child who is finding it difficult to appreciate the people and things around them? Shine! by Patrick McDonnell is the perfect picture book for them. In it, a small sea star (starfish) named Hoshi dreams of being a shining star in the night sky, just like the ones she sees from the tide pool. As she’s swept back into the ocean with the tide, she throws herself a pity party describing everything that she would experience if she was “up there” in the night sky. It pulls her deeper and deeper into the ocean, which is symbolic of the emotional pit we all put ourselves in when we throw our own pity parties.
The reader plays an observer on the outside looking in. For those who pay attention to the details, it becomes apparent that Hoshi is missing something. Patrick McDonnell weaves a description around Hoshi’s dialogue that is a play on words. It illustrates that Hoshi is missing the fact that much of what she describes already exists around her. She just needs to choose to be happy. At the end of the story, she meets a new friend who shows her just that, and she glows from inside with happiness.
For the younger kids, you may need to read it to them a few times before they fully grasp the message of the story, but that’s no inconvenience. This book is beautifully illustrated by Naoko Stoop. The pages flow wonderfully and are filled with colors. You won’t mind looking at them over and over again.
I very much appreciate the message of this story. It’s not 100% a “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side” story. Hoshi must choose to be happy without knowing the downsides of what it is like to live as a star. While I want my own children to strive to fulfill their dreams, I want them to know that happiness comes by their own choice. They can be happy now, not just when they achieve their dreams.