Children’s Books of the Year 1997
Booklist starred review
Jordi lives a solitary life on a barren and rocky hillside. One day, after a terrible thunderstorm, he finds a most unusual friend, a star reflected on a pond by his house. Inspired by his love for this unexpected friend, he sets about finding ways to enhance the pond and its surroundings. Before he knows it all of the mountainside has changed… Magically illustrated by Susan Gaber this story has proven to be inspiring to children of all ages.
This CD contains the reading of three of my favorite stories: Jordi’s Star, The Malachite Palace, and The Unicorn of the West. It was a very meaningful experience for me to record these books, to choose the music to accompany the reading, and to share after each recording the story of the creation of each book.
This book was inspired by a landscape where two different mountains, one green, one dry faced each other. In reality it is the sum of my beliefs: beauty is all around us, if only we pause to see it. And love is the strongest energy. As we love we are transformed, as we love the world can be transformed. I chose the name Jordi for the character in recognition of a beautiful tradition. In Catalonia, to celebrate Saint Jordi’s feast day, April 23, friends greet each other with a rose and a book.
The best accolade that I could have been received for this book was granted me a very short time ago when a mother brought his son, Jordi, and asked me to autograph a book for him. She said she had heard the name only once before, but when she saw it in this book she chose it for her son. I hope he will always be a lover of roses and of books and a good friend to many!
Gaber’s (Bit by Bit) radiant, clear-toned paintings give a quiet luminescence to this story of a solitary shepherd who lives with his flock among dry and dusty hills. One day, after a heavy rain, Jordi finds a small pond has formed near his house. Bereft of human companionship, Jordi befriends a star that is reflected in the water each night. To please it, he plants flowers and fruit trees, and these actions bring him into touch with the blossoming mountainside and with his neighbors in the nearby village. Ada (My Name Is Maria Isabel) uses matter-of-fact language to take the strangeness out of Jordi’s imaginary relationship; he does not ask the star about the nature of the cosmos-he asks her if she slept well and chats to her about the beauty of the foliage. The hero’s plump, bearded face, almost blank at first, gains rosy good cheer as the story progresses. The gently humorous illustrations make the tale of Jordi’s spiritual growth shine with joy. Ages 4-8.
School Library Journal
Pre-School–Grade 3: A solitary shepherd finds a special kind of magic. On a hillside stripped bare by woodcutters, Jordi tends his goats. Hoping to save a trip to the river, he digs a hole in the ground, but the would-be well remains dry. An intense rainstorm fills the hole, creating a pool that mirrors the night sky. Gazing at its reflection, Jordi truly believes that a star has fallen into the pool. Overcome with happiness, he attempts to make his new friend comfortable, gradually bringing rocks, flowers, and other gifts from nature. As the years pass, the now-lush hillside flourishes and both Jordi and his star shine with contentment. Written with strong emotion and a sense of wonder, this story has the tone and resonance of a folktale. Because Jordi is presented with dignity and simple wisdom, his belief in the star does not seem foolish, but rather an act of faith powerful enough to change his life. Done with acrylics on coquille board, Gaber’s paintings are pleasing. Jordi is the only splash of color against a barren background; his bearded, square-jawed face is painted with deep emotion as, touched by starlight, he smiles in his sleep, or gazes lovingly into the pool. Landscape scenes are varied with close-up pictures, and changes in the perspective add detail and depth to the illustrations. A moving, beautifully told story. –Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
Ages 4-8: Jordi lives a difficult, lonely life on a rocky hill, tending a herd of goats. The terrain is bleak, and even getting water is difficult. When the hole he digs to try to open a well fills with water during a thunderstorm, Jordi’s life is forever altered. That night he sees a star shining in the pool, and he gazes on it enraptured. He is certain the star has gone to sleep when it disappears from the pool the next day, and sure enough, that night the star reappears. Feeling an urge to nurture his new friend, he begins bringing it things–large rocks, which he puts together with soft moss; shiny quartz pebbles, which he tosses into the bottom of the pool; and “some tiny blue flowers he had never noticed before.” Day by day, he brings more gifts to the star, gradually transforming his landscape and himself: “Jordi could not understand how life had once seemed so sad and lonely to him, filled as it was with so many beautiful things to discover.” This touching, lyrically told story is given substance by Gaber’s earthy illustrations, which show Jordi as a poignantly real man, his broad face and large hands in sharp contrast to the delicate flowers and the twinkling star. The book is appropriate for any picture-book collection, but one particular illustration, which shows Jordi sleeping as starlight shining in the window illuminates a cross and an icon, makes this an especially fine choice for church and parochial school libraries. –Susan Dove Lempke.
The Reading Teacher
“[…] Acrylic paintings drawn on coquille board by Susan Gaber convey the story’s beautiful spirit. Alex, age 11, reflected: ‘We can see how something so small could bring a man so much joy’.” (The Reading Teacher. October, 1997)
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