Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Star Thief

The Star Thief
Andrea DiNoto ~ Arnold Lobel
MacMillian, 1967

Goodness gracious, does Mr. Lobel pop up just about everywhere. He's one of those illustrators that I often take for granted. His Frog & Toad titles so permeate the children's book landscape, that sometimes I am shocked when I find something new. The legacy is everywhere in the thrift world: Mouse Soup, Owl at Home, Fables, Uncle Elephant. But here is the first and only time I've seen this particular book. My copy is a battered old library edition I bought at a used book shop for $1.98. Though he didn't write it, the illustrations are now some of my favorites of his (The Ice-Cream Cone Coot aside, of course) for no other reason than I'm in the love with the way he portrays the stars. Each drawing is unique and their round shapes remind me of sparkling Christmas ornaments. Some with swirls, some with stars, a flower, a spiral.... simply wonderful. It doesn't hurt that my son is enchanted with this book and carried it around with him for a full day after the first read.

So goes the tale of the thief who longed to touch the stars. One day he hatches a plan to touch some, and when he sees how easy it is to pick one from the sky, he smuggles the whole lot of them. The villagers are devastated over the loss of their twinkling neighbors, so they trap the thief and demand he return the stars to the sky. The thief tries and tries, but can't seem to get the stars back up. That is until a wise little boy discovers the only thing that will restore the stars to their rightful places are wishes, so everyone gets to make one... well, almost everyone.

Finally, the thief said:
"There are no more left."
"That's alright," said one of the villagers. "We've all had a wish."
"No. Not all," said the boy. "The thief hasn't had a wish."
"But the thief doesn't deserve a wish," said one of the villagers. "It doesn't matter that there isn't a star left for him."
Everyone agreed. The sky began to lighten and the people knew dawn was near. They yawned and started back to their cottages. The boy and the thief were left alone.
"You should have had a wish too," said the boy. "I'm sorry there were no stars left."
"My wish," said the thief, as he gathered up his sack and his ladder, "was to touch the stars. And I did."

Pure magic, this one.

Also by:
The Terrible Tiger
Red Tag Comes Back
Oscar Otter
Mouse Tales
Prince Bertram the Bad
The Secret Three
Benny's Animals
Miss Suzy
Martha the Movie Mouse
Terry and the Caterpillars
The Strange Disappearance of Arthur Cluck
Ice Cream Cone Coot


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Antmusic said...

Jealousy seathes through me, but I still smile and enjoy your blog. I am a big Arnold Lobel fan, and I have most of his books, but this one has eluded me, dangit. Thank you for posting the pictures, it is nice to see them finally.

Anonymous said...

This book was given to me by my much older cousin, way back in the late 1960s. I am now 57 yo, and I remember fondly how much I treasured that book. The book was lost somewhere in time, but now I am trying to find and buy a new copy.
Thank you for posting the illustrations. It is really nice to see them again.

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