Cindy: My grandparents hauled a silver Starliner across the country year after year to visit the relatives. They would park the trailer behind our house for the month of June and I would sit on a bench at the small kitchen table and play Scrabble or dominoes with my grandmother every night after dinner. I loved their little house on wheels. In Wells’ story, Stella’s Starliner (Candlewick 2014), Stella the fox loves her little home she shares with her mother and father. Daddy is only there on weekends when he is not away working, just one issue in this book that doesn’t show up frequently in young children’s stories.
When a band of weasels show up and make fun of Stella’s “tin can” home and mock her for being poor, their words sting. The book “rolls” to a nice resolution and Stella finds friends who marvel at her unique home.
Many children live in places that they are ashamed to show their friends for various reasons and this book is a gentle look at that issue. My one complaint is the reinforcement of the stereotype the weasels present as bullying bad guy teen skateboarders. Even so, Stella’s story will bring comfort to many.
Lynn: Stella’s little silver house may be small but it has everything a child could possibly want – a loving family. That comforting idea hitches onto the reader just as firmly as Stella’s daddy hitches the Starliner onto his truck. When Stella’s Daddy takes the Starliner sailing through the Milky Way, the page turn reveals just one of many gorgeous spreads that made me gasp. Wells has really outdone herself with this beautiful book with “starry skies” behind the Starliner to the cozy colorful interiors of the trailer. Candlewick kindly tells us that Wells used watercolors, gouache, pastel, ink and colored pencil on sanded paper to create these luminous illustrations. Even the endpapers, silver with spangles of stars, are lovely and the cover with the reflective silvery trailer invites the reader immediately into this beautiful book. The result is both magical and reassuring to readers that Stella’s lovely little home is a perfect place to be.