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Starfish the Star by Elaine Bickell

Starfish has recently made up his mind that he is really a 'star' of the famous kind. He spends his day stuck to the glass of his tank, craving the attention of people who visit the aquarium. Pushing his companions to the back of the tank, one day a crack in the glass threatens all of the occupants. Can an attention seeking starfish put others before himself to save the day?

Author Elaine Bickell crafts a nice little story with a deeper meaning. She uses the attention-seeking Starfish to teach younger readers that while it can be fun to be the centre of attention, sometimes it's better to stay out of the limelight and help others.

My main bugbear though is the rhyme. So many picture books are written in rhyming couplets, it's a common convention. But the major rule is to never sacrifice the story for a rhyme. Sadly, the rhyme used in Starfish the Star felt, at times, forced and unnatural for me to read aloud. I grew frustrated with it, as the story repeated itself, all for the sake of a rhyme. This is a story where well-written prose would have made all the difference.

That said, my children liked the story and rhyme does have a place - it teaches children about word families and the sound of language among other things.

Illustrator Daron Parton crafts bold and vibrant characters; the front cover featuring a bright pink starfish with a goofy grin instantly captures your interest. The remaining aquatic characters are full of charm and personality, even the jellyfish has a full range of emotions. Eagle-eyed readers will also spot an extra sea creature lurking within the depths of the tank to spot.

While I was not a fan of the overcooked rhyme, my children enjoyed reading this book and it is often requested at bedtime. I preferred Bickell's debut The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo.

Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell

Scholastic, RRP $19.99