Wandering star by Natalie Jane Prior

cover image

Illus. by Stephen Michael King. Scholastic, 2019. ISBN: 9781760663339.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Horses. Adventure. Friendship. The girl and her horse, Wandering Star, are inseparable. They do everything together, from roaming the hills near home, to putting the sheep away when a fox appears. They join in with the other animals, regardless of the weather doing circus tricks. But they both love the sea, and Wandering Star takes her there to see the dolphins and seagulls. And she dreams. The girl finds a locket in the rock pool, and is reminded of the old story of a Faery Queen losing her locket during a perilous storm. They ride past the wolves and into a cave where the glowworms light their way to the Queen and they restore the locket to her, receiving a reward.
Told in gently rhyming lines, the rhyming scheme will have readers predicting the next word, and wondering at the way the lines rhyme, as each stanza has an AABCCB structure which is wonderful to read aloud, forcing the reader to think ahead and not fall into the trap of expecting a simpler rhyming scheme. This poetic form is a breath of fresh air compared with many much simpler poetic forms being offered recently. Audiences will appreciate the difference and in a supportive classroom, try the rhyming scheme for themselves.
The dream sequence of the young girl and her horse visiting the Faery Queen is beautifully told, and the illustrations by Stephen Michael King add to the mystery and other worldliness of the book. The horse, Wandering Star, will appeal to all readers who will be entranced with the shapes it makes across the pages, each image quite different from the one before.
Using watercolour, ink and pencil, King has created a wondrous background to this lovely story and I can hear the sighs of contentment from its readers, especially when they ride home together, stopping on the hill to look at their little house waiting for them.
Fran Knight