Stars Shall Be Bright is set during the First World War, and tells the tale of three children who are left without their parents. Stuck living with the selfish, pious Mrs. Carter after their mother’s death, James, Belle and William are forced to go on the run to find their father. The book follows the children on their quest to reunite their family.
The story is, understandably, quite dark and this isn’t a book to read before going to sleep. Children with an interest in history will appreciate the setting, while the heart-wrenching story of the three siblings is an accessible introduction to the war for those without great enthusiasm for period stories.
MacPhail shows the impact of war as gently as possible by putting a human face on it and setting the children’s journey to the Front as an adventure. This is a story of the strength of family ties and the importance of sticking together in the face of adversity. James, the main character, is an astonishingly brave boy whose love for his younger siblings outweighs his worry and the fact that he misses his parents.
Black and white illustrations are peppered throughout and lend to the moments of suspense in the story, without being overpowering.
A definite plus of this book is that it is dyslexia friendly. With pale yellow pages and large, clear text, it is recommended for readers aged 8+. More sensitive children may find the content difficult and this is perhaps a good book to read with parents.