Myra here.

I am glad to share two more books that are in keeping with our theme – books that celebrate a collection of kindnesses and sparkles and stars.

Widget courtesy of the ever-talented Iphigene.
Widget courtesy of the ever-talented Iphigene.

IMG_9694Gathering Sparks

Written By: Howard Schwartz Illustrated By: Kristina Swarner
Published by: Roaring Book Press, New York, 2010.
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

The Author’s Note found at the end of the book indicate that the concept of this book is based on a Jewish tradition that talks about tikkun olam which is derived from the teachings of a Rabbi Isaac Luria. Essentially it talks about the myth of vessels carrying a cargo of light which shattered in the skies, thereby creating the stars in the night skies.

The myth is told in this picturebook from the perspective of a small child asking her grandfather why there are so many stars in the skies.


Grandfather explained that the sparks did not just scatter in the heavens, but fell in many places, and the reason for our existence is to gather those sparks:

“Every time you do a good deed, one of the sparks is set free.”


According to the Author’s Note:

“Coming, as it did, a century after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, this myth provided an explanation for God permitting the Jews of Spain to be scattered throughout the world. Instead of seeing their exile in far-flung countries as a punishment, the myth explained that God had put them in those places for a purpose – to gather the sparks.”

While I found most of the illustrations to be a tad repetitive, the message of this beautiful remains to be timelessly beautiful, and one that resonates well during these times when we are in dire need of compassion and more kindness.

Draw Me a StarIMG_9537

Written and Illustrated By: Eric Carle
Published by: Penguin Young Readers Group, 1992
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

Similar to The House that Jack Built or The Gingerbread Man, this is a classic example of a cumulative tale – or a chain tale whereby the story builds upon itself sans the multiple repetitions. It all begins with a star, who upon breathing its many-coloured life, demanded:


“Draw me the sun, said the star. And the artist drew the sun. It was a warm sun.”

And from the sun, there were cats, birds, butterflies, flowers, clouds, rainbows, and the variegated things found in the heavens and on earth. The end note also indicates how Eric Carle, master creator, crafted the images in this picture book:

Eric Carle prepares his own colored tissue papers. Different textures are achieved by using various brushes to splash, spatter, and fingerpaint acrylic paints onto thin tissue papers. These colored tissue papers then become his palette.


They are cut or torn into shapes as needed and are glued onto white illustration board. Some areas of his designs, however, are painted directly on the board before the bits of tissue paper are applied to make the collage illustrations. The art is then scanned by laser and separated into four colors for reproduction on sheetfed offset printing presses.

This is a powerful story of the artist as creator and the multi-hued images coming from one’s dreams as coursed through one’s pen. Beautiful book.


Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 243, 244 (150)

*** Video ads other readers may find at the bottom of this post are NOT endorsed by GatheringBooks but are randomly included by WordPress to maintain their site. ***

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “Of Sparks and Stars

  1. Myra, in GATHERING SPARKS it’s such a magical image thinking of “vessels carrying a cargo of light which shattered in the skies, thereby creating the stars in the night skies.” Myths are ancient fantasy novels 😉


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