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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Magic is all around us; all we have to do is believe. Emiko, a young Japanese girl, is visiting her grandparents. In their garden, she discovers all kinds of amazing, magical things and creatures. There’s even a fairy, who shares love and magic with the young girl. Emiko has no difficulty believing in the magic all around her. As the fairy says, “You believe in magic, and it lives within your spirit. What you believe is true.” Her siblings are more rambunctious and their play threatens the sanctity and peace of the magical garden. She challenges them and Grandfather supports her. The boys stop their thoughtless play, thanking Emiko for reminding them that “all life matters.” More words of wisdom come from Grandfather: “It is fine to explore and play. But you must do it with respect. Do not harm another intentionally. Spirit is in all things.”
Kristi Y. Shimada’s picture book story, The Enchanted Starflower, is a simple but pleasant folk tale set in a Japanese garden. Emiko, the protagonist, has an open mind and a loving heart and cares for all that she sees in her grandparents’ garden. Because of her gentle nature, she witnesses the beauty of an enchanted starflower and meets the fairy who lives inside the starflower. The plot is well structured, leading the reader along Emiko’s journey of discovery and the pleasures she finds in the garden. The illustrations are superb and complement the story, adding to the Japanese flavor. Like all good folk tales, there is a powerful message in this story: to take care of one’s environment. Beautifully told and presented.