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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Goodnight Star, Whoever You Are, written by Jodi Meltzer and illustrated by Jody King Camarra, is a children's picture book that follows the point of view of a young child who becomes enchanted by a bright star in the sky. The book begins with a fun day at the beach full of sand, swimming, and water sports. As the child and their mother are driving home, the exhaustion from an active day begins to settle in. The child then notices through the window that there is one star in particular that appears to be following them. When they ask why their mother says what the scientists have determined, but then surprises the child with her own theory of the star, what it represents, and how it—and those we have loved and lost—are present in our lives even when we are unable to see them all the time, or ever again.
Grief and loss is a particularly difficult topic to broach, but when it is a child that is faced with such heartbreaking circumstances it can really challenge an adult, particularly those who may be grieving themselves, to explain the loss to a child. Jodi Meltzer provides a beautiful point of view in Goodnight Star, Whoever You Are, weaving the concept of universal connection and creating a comforting link between the child in the story, their mother, and their loss. The wonder of the child in Meltzer's tale shines bright in the narration, which is enhanced through the imagery of Jody King Camarra. The illustrations took me a couple of pages to get on board with, but my youngest little reader loved them, which is all that really matters. As someone who lost their own mother at a very young age, this book also sparked an insightful conversation with my daughter, which was a moment we'd not really shared before as she listened to me talk about a grandmother she was never able to meet. This is, truly, a beautiful book and I would give it a whole bucket of stars if I could.