It’s November, and families everywhere are preparing for this year’s unprecedented holiday season. Parents are having trouble explaining to their children that they’ll be celebrating apart from extended family this year. But as Rebecca Dwight Bruff reminds us in her newest book, Stars of Wonder (Köehler Kids), “you have enough strength inside of you and enough love around you to get through the hard and scary moments in life.”
Stars of Wonder goes back to the original Christmas story to find an inspirational story of faith, family and friendship. This captivating children’s book reimagines the Three Wise Men as a band of adventurous young children embarking on a journey to follow the Star of Bethlehem. The three princes — Jonah, Nathan and Jacob — are joined by their sister, Princess Phoebe, as well as their friend Sumar. As the group of five makes their way toward the beacon of light, they face dangers from wild mountain lions, nefarious kings and even the desert itself. Despite these challenges, the children learn how to work together in order to achieve their goal and reach Bethlehem.
AN ENCHANTING JOURNEY
Stars of Wonder is Bruff’s first children’s story, and she is off to an outstanding start. She weaves a compelling and inspirational tale of adventure in which children must overcome the difficulties of travel to see a historical event with their own eyes. The dialogue between the siblings is charming and funny, and their childlike wonder at their surroundings is so very genuine. Jill Dubin’s stunning papercut illustrations, full of vibrant color and eye-catching patterns, accompany the story perfectly. As the group treks through the desert, the writing and illustrations give life to the people and animals they meet on their journey.
Even though the children are following the star in the sky, Bethlehem is only one chapter of their journey. After a run-in with wild animals, the group is forced to split up, with Jonah, Nathan and Jacob continuing the journey while Phoebe and Sumar stay with the supplies. The two groups need to meet back up before they head back to their kingdom. And in the meantime, the king and queen have discovered that their children had left during the middle of the night. As Bruff describes:
“The royal brothers and sister agreed that they wouldn’t mention their plans to their parents, because they didn’t want them to worry. This was not their best idea, they realized in retrospect.”
What follows is a wild goose chase as the three groups try to track each other down in the wide expanse of the desert. As the family finally reunites, the children share the exciting story of their travels, while their parents are glad to get them home at last.
With Bruff’s story of family warming our hearts, we’ll be reminded that while Christmas will look a little different this year, it will still be special. Traditional celebration or not, the holidays will still be a commemoration of family, faith and the loved ones in our lives.