Dad has lost his job. Now he and his little daughter, Nyla, must leave their lovely home surrounded by fields and trees, where at night Nyla can see the stars – and occasionally a comet. They move to the city. Houses and tower blocks surround them, the streets are crowded, everywhere – even the classroom – is full of noise and Nyla can only see seven stars. Then one night she sees a comet…magic.
This is a charming sensitive picture book that reflects a situation that young readers will recognise in many aspects. It is a theme that is not new, but here the presentation is fresh and engaging, providing opportunities for reflection even for the youngest. While the text is minimal it is the illustrations that fill the gaps. They do not merely replicate the words, they add to the narrative extending and enriching. We see Nyla’s world, experience her imaginative responses – not because she tells us she loves drawing and stories but because we see her surrounded by her work. We know her. The emptiness and constraint of their new home is emphasised by the way the empty packing boxes mirror the cityscape outside. Then comes the magic of the comet. Todd-Stanton provides a visual metaphor to show how imagination and creativity can change an unhappy circumstance to something very different – a home? A community? Hope?
The illustrations fill the pages with saturated colours and immediately engaging characters. They move between full double spreads that bring a sense of space to single spreads and vignettes creating movement and rhythm for the storytelling. The ending, where the presentation changes dramatically from horizontal to vertical, only serves to emphasise the transformation that has taken place – but it is not an unbelievable or impossible transformation, rather a positive possibility. The whole production from the eye-catching covers, the endpapers – again reflecting change – to the well placed, attractive text and the immersive illustrations is a joy. A lovely addition to any shelves.