Title Star of Fear, Star of Hope
Author Jo Hoestlandt
Illustrator/Photographer Johanna Kang
Publisher and Year Walker Publishing Company, Inc., 1995
Number of pages: 28
Genre: Historical Fiction
Descriptive Annotation: The illustrations in Star of Fear, Star of Hope are very simple and done in a monotone color scheme. These illustrations could represent the gravity of the situation at hand (the Holocaust) or the general feeling of uneasiness during that time period. Star of Fear, Star of Hope is told from the perspective of an elderly woman who is looking back at her childhood. Helen and Lydia are two best friends living in France during the time of the Holocaust. Lydia is Jewish, but Helen is not. One day, Lydia’s mother sews a yellow star on Lydia’s coat, and continually repeats the phrase “Stars at morning, better take warning. Stars at night, hope is in sight.” When Lydia stays the night at Helen’s house for her birthday, a Jewish woman comes to Helen’s apartment building for safety. Helen’s family takes her in, and Lydia in turn leaves and returns to her house, causing Lydia to get upset. Helen and Lydia never saw one another again, and the story ends with Helen wishing Lydia survived this hard time and regretting her last feelings of anger toward her best friend.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This story takes place in France during the Nazi occupation and features different players in the war: Nazi soldiers, Jewish families, and families who were safe from being taken to various concentration camps. This book also provides a different type of diversity—the way it was presented. Star of Fear, Star of Hope starts out with a first-person perspective of an elderly woman describing her present life. It then switches to her telling the story of her childhood, and then reverts back to the present. The change in time period of narration makes this story interesting and more emotionally charged.
Interdisciplinary Connections: This book could be read while discussing the Holocaust and other events during World War II. Teachers could also use this book during a Language Arts lesson that describes different perspectives and time periods to use while writing. Star of Fear, Star of Hope could also be used as an example when describing juxtaposition, which is used in this story when the feelings of present-time Helen and young- Helen are described and put against one another. If a teacher chose to do a whole Language Arts unit on the Holocaust, this book along with other books told from a child’s perspective, like When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit or The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas could be compared to one another.
Other Information: This book would be for older students—junior high and up. The writing is very powerful and even I, a college student, got slightly emotional while reading this book. I do, however, strongly recommend it! It was able to capture the whirlwind of emotions that were occurring during this time period and the effect that event still has on people today.