Janet Lee Carey-Dreamwalks DreamWalks Janet Lee Carey Award-winning author of novels for children and young adults

The Starkeeper

Dreamwalkers, today we look to a fallen star and seek light in the darkness with the help of author/illustrator Faith Pray

Faith’s a friend and fellow Dreamwalker. She’s stopping by to share the story behind her beautiful new picture book, The Starkeeper. This heart-changing story of hope is deeply healing. Please share it with your book loving friends, your favorite teachers, and librarians. And come play at the virtual launch Party! (see details below)

June 9, 2020, Random House Books for Young Readers

“A fallen star and one child’s kindness lead to a chain of good works that change her town from a dreary, dark place to one of dazzling brightness.”

“When a girl finds a fallen star, she decides to keep it hidden. But this star encourages kindness and needs to shine, so it comes out from the shadows. At first the glow from the star starts to fade, and the girl worries–maybe she’s not a very good starkeeper. Then a chance gesture of kindness seems to brighten the star, and soon this kindness leads to a chain of good works that light up the once-dreary town. The art of the book follows the star’s journey and lights up more and more with each act of kindness”.

Janet: I’m so glad you’re joining us today, Faith. Can you tell us how The Starkeeper came about?

Faith: Thank you so much for having me, Janet. It is an honor to get to talk with you about The Starkeeper.

When I started working on this picture book idea, it was about a girl and a bear and a cat, a dragon, bats, boats, a lighthouse and an adventure. Maybe a little bit too much for just one story!

My agent Molly O’Neill kept asking me to sift through my ideas and find the one story my heart most needed to tell. So I kept asking. “What is the story you need to tell?” until this picture came to my mind of a lost thing that needed a place to shine, and I felt a little click, like a puzzle piece finding its home. That was the story I wanted to tell.

Seven years ago, I had a stroke. I struggled to write again. I couldn’t string stories together the way I used to. Couldn’t focus. Afraid of what might be coming next, but still so wanting to make the most of every day I had left.

I think it’s okay to acknowledge that darkness is scary. To look fear in the face, and then, look for light. Because even in darkness, there is still light to be found, maybe not blazing the way out, but still. If you look around, you can see it. Even now, in this time, we are surrounded by lights!

Health care workers and essential workers, risking their lives to care for us during a pandemic, teachers setting up homework and food drop-offs, authors, museums, symphonies giving art and stories. Multitudes across the world joining hands to support and elevate Black lives.

The heart of the Starkeeper was really born out of my post-stroke darkness. The Starkeeper is about a girl who wants to change the dark world around her, and a lost star who needs the girl to help it shine. And the way to shine it? It’s this. Even in the darkest times, we still have one light to give. And that light is whatever brave gifts come out of each one of us.

Janet: You did a beautiful job of making me feel the little girl’s loneliness and longing in the opening of the book. The darkness made me long for hope. It heightened my gratitude when she found the fallen star that was so small at first, but still shone. The story and illustrations flow so beautifully, Faith. I’m always curious to ask the Chicken vs Egg question. So, what came first, the drawings or the words? Or did they unfold simultaneously?

Faith: This is a great question. The Starkeeper started with images. Often when I’m brainstorming, I sketch and write ideas on top of each other, kind of at the same time. But with The Starkeeper, I already had a picture in my mind of this glowing thing, so I scribbled really rough sketches and ideas on sticky notes and stuck them all to a big piece of cardboard to figure out what it really was about. I took my board with me in the car so I could work on it anywhere – at the park, during the kids’ soccer practices, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I had a better grasp on what the story was about, I spent months revising it, sharing edits back and forth with my agent, trying to trim what didn’t belong.

Janet: I love this process, Faith! You trimmed it down to a graceful story. What did you learn from creating this book?

Faith: Sometimes the place I think I’m going isn’t where I need to end up. And that’s okay. Being open to revision, open to changing my thinking will turn my story into a much better version of itself.

Janet: Faith, you are yourself a Starkeeper. Dreamwalks supports the protesters marching for equal rights and justice in this country. I was delighted that you asked to share more on this.

Faith: Thank you, Janet! Shining a light on this urgent Black Lives Matter issue central in our nation, we need to ask ourselves what we are going to do about it? – I hope we can begin by listening, and then by finding ways to help. One small way to help is by examining the books in our bookshelves. Who do we see reflected there? How many of the characters in those books look just like us? How does that sit with our hearts? How can Black and other minority readers feel like they are valuable as everybody else if they do not see themselves in books? And if white children do not see a diversity in the books they read, then what will happen to their growing hearts as well? There are many beautiful and important books to seek out by Black authors and illustrators. These are just a few I’m especially excited about right now:

Saturday by Oge Mora

 

 

 

 

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o and Vashti Harrison

 

 

 

 

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn

 

 

 

 

My Hair is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera

 

 

 

 

 

Janet: Thanks for sharing these books to add to our shelves, Faith, and for taking us on your journey with The Starkeeper.

LAUNCH PARTY
The Starkeeper is having a book launch party June 15 at 1:00 pm (PST) on Zoom. I hope you can join the fun. Click here and receive your personal invite link along with   The Starkeeper Launch Party 

Since The Starkeeper is all about love and community and we are celebrating from afar, I made a star party so you can join the festivities from home. There are stars to fold, stars to wear, stars to decorate with and share.
Here is a link to the printable party: www.faithpraybooks.com/star-party

I’ll see you on June 15 at 1:00 p.m. PST!   ~ Faith

FAITH PRAY (yes, that’s her name by marriage) is an author-illustrator from the Pacific Northwest who regularly wrangles four wildebeests (twins plus two) and two cats. She is passionate about books, literacy, and rainstorms. Coming from a family of artists, when a stroke left this young mother struggling to find herself as a writer again, she started making art. She works in pencil and watercolor with a sprinkling of digital magic on top. For more information, go to faithpraybooks.com, and follow @faithpray7 on Twitter and @faith.pray on Instagram.

 

6 comments on “The Starkeeper

  1. Just what I needed today: light. A few years ago I also had a series of (small-to-medium) strokes that kept me in aphasia for months and left me wondering if I would write again. Answer: yes, deeper, quieter. Thanks, Janet and Faith, for letting us join your conversation. Sounds and looks like a great book. I’ll check it out!

  2. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, Margaret! Ah, and yes, I’ve read your current writing, articles, posts, and your novel. All deeper, quieter– the words are freed to speak their truth.

  3. June 8 is a wonderful day for the release of The Starkeeper: it’s cloudy and rainy, and comes a week after many protests against brutal treatment of Black lives and many wanting equal protection under the law. Faith’s soft drawings and paintings of lost Light found, help us learn to be kind and helpful, and to brighten all worlds.

  4. Thank you for your thoughtful response, Gretchen.
    I agree. It’s the right time for The Starkeeper as people are out protesting and working hard to end the brutal treatment of black people, walking together and holding firm for change.

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