Claire A. Nivola's elegant little book Star Child tells the story of the human life cycle through the eyes of a star born on Earth. It touches on change, love and loss in a way somewhat reminiscent of The Little Prince. The Star Child is a vapor of timeless flame who longs to visit the Earth. His star elders tell the story of how he would be born human, grow up, fall in love with the beautiful world, and be swept up in our river of time.
They describe the constant wash of color, sensation and sound that is life - the abundance of living things, the constant motion and change, transitioning from one stage of life to the next. The range of emotions he will feel - joy, disappointment, sadness and wonder. He will forget his origins and fall in love with a world he will eventually have to say goodbye to.
Nivola writes, "When my first child was born, I felt that I had not made this child but that he already was and that I was lucky enough to receive him. Five years later, my father died. That he was no longer alive did not seem to explain where all that he had been had gone. From these feelings, one about the inception of life, one about its end, came the idea for this little story."
I identified with this feeling of one's child arriving whole, with a clear identity that blooms under my care, but is unique to herself. Each day she grows more independent. Eventually she will leave our home and create one of her own making. The whole dynamic of our family will change. Roles will evolve and reverse. So I choose to view her not as someone who belongs to me, but someone I get to take care of as she's passing through. The more respect I treat her with as I teach her, perhaps she'll have confidence in herself and choose to love me back once she learns just how human and full of mistakes I am.
I am grateful for a story that deals with loss and change, and presents an alternative view of death and the afterlife. My child is often inquisitive about death, and I want to start her on her a calm accepting thought process about it. I want to offer a feeling that death is a part of all our stories, and is as natural as life. That she need not fear the end too much, it's just what happens, and we should enjoy the precious time we have together in this complex life. None of these thoughts are easy for me, they are a story I am telling myself to cope with the painful change I know is coming, but art helps with this struggle.
I found this small book a lovely meditation on important themes. Children can be quite serious little beings, and Star Child is a tool to help them sort through deep concepts with enchanting illustrations to light the way.