‘For as long as the universe could remember, there was a special time between day and night, sleep and wake. This was the time when anything was possible, both good and bad: a time of change, of magic.’ This irrestible opening draws the listener into a heart-warming story of friendship and cooperation to ensure the world’s continuing cycle of life.
‘Owl and Star’ is a story revealing how stars retain their sparkle. On a deeper level, the story reveals how the earth and its inhabitants live and work together. The story uses personification in giving non-human creatures (here the universe, owls, stars, sun and moon) human behaviours. Every morning, the stars descend from the heavens with ‘renewed hope for a new day.’ In the evening as the sun settles into ‘sleep time,’ the warmth leaving the earth lifts the stars back into the heavens. Their travels between heaven and earth restore the stars’ sparkle and bring light into the world.
One day, Little Star misses the call of the breeze to return to the sky. Her light is failing and she cannot make the journey back to the skies. Owl notices that his favourite Little Star is missing from the sky and he determines to return her home. The challenge is great. The dramatic scene is heart rending with owl desperately tired and hungry and Little Star falling into a deep sleep, her light fading. But a satisfying resolution is found. Moon and Sun, watching this scene from afar, make a dramatic rescue. Moon sends moonbeams to cradle Owl and return him to earth, while Sun’s warmth lifts Little Star back into the heavens thus restoring her sparkle. The universe smiles and the earth breaths a sign of relief. All is right with the world once again.
Helen Milroy’s art is digitally created. Similar to Milroy’s other books, her artwork covers each double page spread with striking shapes such as Owl in rescue flight and Aboriginal motifs with overlapping intricate patterns and strong colouring. These invite exploring shapes, colours and patterns. The story itself is simple yet richly expressed with verbs like ‘scrambled’ and adjectives like ‘flickering.’ These are easily understood in context and offer a rich reading experience. ‘Owl and Star’ is simultaneously simple and complex, thus inviting contemplation and rereading.
Helen Milroy is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia.