Posted in Reviews

Review: Star Stories: Constellation Tales From Around the World by Anita Ganeri & Andy Wilx

Star Stories: Constellations Tales From Around the World by Anita Ganeri

Recommended: sure
for children as an entry to global myths and legend and culture in general, for adults who want a gentle into to the same, for lovely art and a physically delightful book to hold

Summary

For thousands of years people have looked up to the night sky and told stories about the stars. These epic tales tell of vengeful gods and goddesses, of monsters and heroes. Others try to make sense of the natural world, or unravel the mysterious forces of the universe. This stunning book brings together a selection of these legends from all over the world – from Ancient Greece to North America, Egypt, China, India and the South Pacific. Written by award-winning author Anita Ganeri and with beautifully detailed artwork by illustrator Andy Wilx, this is a magical book to be treasured for generations to come.

Thoughts

This would be a lovely book for kids probably around 10 or so, as it has exciting and varied stories from around the world, plus wonderful and engaging art. Honestly anyone would probably enjoy this, but it’s definitely a good option for children.

This collection has fairly short and simple versions of each story around a constellation, with stories chosen from around the world. The fact that they are somewhat condensed means that some of the nuance can be missing from them. In exchange, it’s easier to get through several without it dragging or getting bogged down in details. For children, I think that’ll be great, particularly as a nighttime story. It would be easy to re-read favorites.

The issue I ran into with the condensed stories were moments that felt oversimplified and carrying a problematic message. For example, in the story about Medusa, the reason given for why she deserved / needed to be killed and was a monster was literally just “she was so ugly and people turned to stone when they looked at her.” That’s a pretty shitty reason — ugly people deserve to die, huh? I also know there’s a LOT more to that story, including petty vengeance from others and over-the-top curses. With children, there are entry points here to discussion around those kinds of issues to acknowledge what’s missing from each story in a societal way. Sometimes lore can be extra grim.

Honestly, once you’re past the Greek myth section though, things get a lot nicer. What’s up with the Greek lore being so petty and vengeful? And there’s ones that are like “The giraffe was too tall to help the community with the other animals, until he started to help guide the sun, and then he did such a great job that he felt better and everyone cheered and he was praised for all time for his great help.” What a heartwarming tale! I loved those ones. And of course there’s always the fun of asking a child what they think the best job for a giraffe is, or imagining how to accomplish some of the other tasks in the stories. I really loved them.

And the ART! Oh, I loved the art. Just holding the book felt luxurious as it’s a large size, with gilded end pages, and full pages of art. The gold-embossed constellations for each story captured me every time as I studied the layout and tried to think if I had seen it in the sky before. Some were way more complex that I ever realized, like Orion’s belt being a tiny part of it; some were bafflingly simple, like Ares, and made me wonder how anyone ever looked at three stars in a line and thought “hey that looks just like a goat!” I guess times were different (ie boring) back then. Are new constellations named anymore or are they all taken? Hmmm..

Anyway, this was a lovely little read and made me want to look more into some of the stories I was less familiar with.

Author:

Reader, traveler, photographer, and always looking to learn!

5 thoughts on “Review: Star Stories: Constellation Tales From Around the World by Anita Ganeri & Andy Wilx

  1. This does look really pretty! I’m familiar with (probably) most of the Greek star stories, since those seem to be the most common ones told in the Western world, but I’m really interested in seeing what stories other cultures told about the pictures in the stars.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There were so many I hadn’t heard! I really liked the Australian Aboriginal ones. As one of the oldest remaining cultures around, that felt like a really deep insight into the world

      Like

      1. Same, that’s exactly why I wanted it. I even I was a little dismayed when it seemed to be only the Greek ones that are common at the start, but the latter half of the book started branching out to be a little more actually global.

        Like

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