How the Stars Came to Be

How the Stars Came to Be
Poonam Mistry
Tate Publishing

I’ve loved Poonam’s art since I saw her first collaboration with Chitra Soundar, so was totally thrilled to learn of her new solo picture book.

Perhaps like most people you’ve wondered how the stars came to be in the sky and this story offers one possibility.

Way back in time the only light came from the sun and the moon.

A fisherman’s daughter loved feeling the Sun’s rays on her during the daytime while at night she would lie in her bed thinking of her father on his boat out at sea with only the light of the Moon to guide him.

That’s fine, other than for the few nights every month there’s no visible Moon at all, leaving the fisherman to work in total darkness. This troubles the Girl so much that one morning the Sun discovers her shedding tears and asks what’s upsetting her.

On hearing the girl’s concern and pondering upon it, the Sun takes one if its golden rays and throws it down to earth where it breaks into a million glowing fragments.

“Gather together all the shining pieces,” the Sun tells the Girl,  “…Then tonight when I drop beneath the horizon … place each of them into the sky. … We will call them stars.”

The Girl does as she’s bid, naming the brightest Polaris; then continues her task creating wonderful images with her positioning of the pieces.

Week after week she works on her skyscape but months later her bag still seems full of stars. How will she ever complete her work?

Meanwhile a Monkey has been watching the Girl and while she’s distracted he descends, seizes the bag and dashes back up into the tree.

A tussle follows,

and out of the bag tumble all the remaining stars, spoiling the work of the Fisherman’s daughter.

Or perhaps not; for sometimes accidents have happy outcomes …

This is an incredibly beautiful book – let’s call it a neo pourquoi tale – where every spread stuns you with its awesomeness. Poonam’s art is inspired by her love of nature, and her gorgeous, intricately patterned work, is based on Indian designs and colours that I as a frequent visitor to India appreciate all the more.

I wish I could show you every single illustration but for that you’ll have to get hold of a copy for yourself.

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