When I went to the SCBWI LA conference (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) in 2011, one of the first people I met was a tall, friendly man named Ed Raarup. I was immediately impressed by his warmth and his enthusiasm for his writing project, which he was working on with my friend and mentor, Emma Walton Hamilton.
His project has come to fruition in a wonderful 144-page book, Fireflies and Shooting Stars: The Tale of Enzo, and after reading it, I can certainly understand his enthusiasm. I’d like to introduce Fireflies and Shooting Stars to you today.
Author: Ed Raarup
Illustrator: Lindsay D. Nery
Publisher: Milford, PA: Moonwatch Productions, 2012
Genre: Illustrated chapter book with accompanying CD
Audience Age: 4 to 10
Themes/Topics: Individuality, individual gifts, special needs, finding what each one shines at
Opening Sentences: Once upon a summer night, when the Moon was full and the stars were bright, Maggy and Luca Firefly brought their young son, Enzo, to the field to see the magic lights of the fireflies and shooting stars for the very first time.
Synopsis: Enzo, a young firefly, is distressed because he doesn’t yet have his light. He is teased for this, and it causes both him and his family problems – he has trouble finding his way in the dark, and they have trouble finding him in the dark.
His mother teaches him the Star Song, which is sung by both the fireflies and the shooting stars that come out to join them on warm summer nights. She urges him to remember that song always, for it will always lead him home. His father tries to find ways to make a light for his son, and Enzo tries his best to endure the teasing and taunting and difficulties brought on by his difference.
Finally, Enzo goes in search of the mythical Joel, who is told of in story and song – he hopes this greatest of the fireflies, who now lives among the shooting stars, will help him to find his light. In the end he learns where his light was all along. (And for you to find out the answer, you’ll have to read the book!)
This is a unique book – a richly illustrated large-format chapter book with an accompanying music CD. Throughout the story, different characters sing to or with Enzo, and the songs are performed beautifully on the CD by the multi-talented author Ed, and others. The most moving song for me is the lovely Star Song, the song that reminds Enzo that “the light will bring you home.”
Availability: Readily available either at the Fireflies and Shooting Stars website or in online bookstores.