I always thought there was something genuine and inviting about Stellaluna’s face on the cover.
My first memory involving books was my pre-k teacher reading Stellaluna to our class. It had the whole package: an unusual approach to a normally scary animal, a dynamic and suspenseful story, a thoughtful message about accepting differences, and gorgeous illustrations.
When children’s books use strongly anthropomorphic animals, it makes me wonder about the way we introduce the animal kingdom to children. Do we create false expectations of the world by making animals look and behave like human beings? Anthropomorphism takes something that is a “window” at face value (a tool to look into the lives and experiences of others) and makes it into a “mirror” (a tool that enables us to reflect upon our own lives and experiences). What I loved about Stellaluna was that it was both a window and a mirror. Although it included information about the lives of birds and bats, and precise, delicate drawings that inspired an appreciation for the beauty of the animal kingdom, it also had a practical implication and a child-relevant message.
Aside from the artful weaving of reflection and education this book pulls off, the thing I love most about Stellaluna is the illustration. The vulnerability and emotion expressed on the face of Stellaluna facilitates the “mirror” aspect of the book by not only pulling you into the context of the story, but forming a personal and empathetic relationship between the child and the character. I’m going to close out this post with a few examples of my favorite illustrations briefly explained.