Monday, December 16, 2013

The Star Child by the Grimms, illustrated by Bernadette Watts

(US / UK Links)

The Star Child is a picture book of Die Sterntaler by the Grimms, usually known as The Star Money or The Star Talers (talers as in coins) in English. It's not as well known but it is beloved by many who do know it. The most famous image from the story is of the little heroine gathering falling stars into her dress. It appears regularly in fairy tale materials and many readers do not recognize the short tale. It is one I see the most questions about, so I thought I would highlight it here today.

This book--the only English language picture book version I am aware of--is illustrated by Bernadette Watts who has illustrated many fairy tales, especially the Grimms for picture books. The cover image is sweet, here's a slightly larger version:

For me, the story has become a Christmas tale although it is not Christmas related. However, it's theme of generosity and giving along with the star imagery make it feel like a Christmas tale, one that is much happier than the usual focus on "The Little Match Girl" by Hans Christian Andersen, the fairy tale perhaps with the strongest ties to Christmas in popular culture. Much less death and guilt, but a joy in giving is conveyed.

Book description:

There was once a young girl whose only possessions were the clothes on her back and a piece of bread some kind soul had given to her. But even these few things meant much to others less fortunate than herself, and in selfless love, the girl gave the little she had away. In this beautiful Grimm tale, her virtue is rewarded a thousand times over.

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