"Don't cry, baby star. You don't have to be scared. I'll take care of you like your Nana until we find a way to get you back home." - Nana Star by Elizabeth Sills and Elena Patrice
I very much enjoy reading to my children, but I think it is also important to craft my own little stories to tell them from time to time. Storytelling is an art well worth teaching. My daughter has started to make up her own stories now as a result. It is this type of story, created out of love with a personal touch, that I most love and cherish.
For Elizabeth Owens' extended family, Nana Star is one such cherished story, brimming full of innocence, compassion and kindness. The Nana Star Series started out in a small way, as a shared story between a Nana (Elizabeth Owens) and her grandson, Vance. Over time, four generations became involved in bringing the story of Nana Star and the Moonman to life in the picture books, CDs and corresponding plush figures. The books are illustrated by Elizabeth's daughter, Linda Saker and written by her granddaughters, Elizabeth and Elena.
Nana Star by Elizabeth Sills and Elena Patrice, illustrated by Linda Saker. ee publishing & productions, LLC (December 2007); 32 pages; ISBN 9780975384350
While walking in the woods, a little girl (Nana Star) discovers a lost little star under a pile of leaves. Full of compassion, she takes the star "under her wings" and tries to help it find the way back to the sky above. The story leaves you hanging slightly, wondering what is next in the Nana Star adventure. The simple illustrations by Linda Saker have retro-elegance written all over them. With a vintage appeal they are reminiscent of the "good-old-times," portraying Nana Star with white gloves and a fashionable dress, walking in fields of flowers and trees. The included CD features an audio version of the story as well as a special Nana Star song.
Nana Star and the Moonman by Elizabeth Sills and Elena Patrice, illustrated by Linda Saker. ee publishing & productions, LLC (May 2008); 32 pages; ISBN 9780975384367
This second book in the Nana Star series shows Nana Star trying to help a baby star find its way back home to the sky above. After falling asleep in the forest, they awake to the darkness of night. Feeling scared and alone, they find comfort and guidance from the Moonman. Like in the original story, the ending of this book alludes to further adventures. The accompanying CD features an audiobook recording of the story as well as a special Moonman song.
The Nana Star books shine bright, imparting positive messages and wholesome values while evoking nostalgic feelings along the way. One thing I really love about the Nana Star series is the inclusion of interactive products based on the books. The corresponding plush dolls help engage children by bringing the story to life and encourage imaginative play. The Moonman Lovey plays a special tune and lights up. My daughter really loves playing with her poseable Nana Star doll that includes a beautiful blue dress, matching pantaloons, white gloves, handkerchief, branch and baby star. She has proudly shown all her friends her doll and likes to wear her hair in the "Nana Star style", complete with braid and bow. Wonder when she'll ask for some white gloves? Maybe someday the Nana Star website will offer the gloves, along with a girl sized Nana Star dress.
Each of the Nana Star books contains an intentional mistake in the text. I had fun searching for the error and so will older children who can read. By sending a note to Nana Star citing the error, children become members of the Little Twinkles Club. Such a fun idea and a great message teaching that, with the exception of God, nobody is perfect, mistakes do happen.
I must note that in some Christian households the Moonman character has caused controversy. For a more detailed discussion of this issue and the author's response, visit Loving Learning at Home. I do agree that the Moonman character could cause some confusion among young children who are just starting to learn about God. (I am most concerned with the song lyrics: "Moonman knows, Moonman sees, he will always be there. Up above, full of love ... Moonman will be there, to answer all your prayers.") I myself wish the Moonman possessed only night-light like qualities, as something that shines bright and helps reassure in the dark night without answering prayers.
This spring 2009, the company will continue the Nana Star series with the book, Nana Star and the Blue Wolf!
One last heartwarming fact: ee publishing and productions, llc is "the laugh-friendly company" and donates a portion of their proceeds to the Nana Star foundation, benefiting sick children and under-funded schools. The company is run by Elizabeth Sills and Elena Patrice, two mompreneurs with big hearts. Sounds like just the kind of company I like to support.