Rosa by Starlight

Atheneum/McElderry. Aug. 2024. 160p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781665958103.
Gr 4-7–Eleven-year-old Rosa was not quite four years old when three things happened: her parents died, an unknown aunt and uncle came to take care of her, and she experienced magic when a cat named Balthazar visited her room the night after her aunt and uncle showed up. Rosa’s new family dampens her spirit but her love of fairy tales and belief in magic persist. An unexpected trip to Venice leaves Rosa feeling more alone than ever until the city’s cats come to her aid. Rosa finds herself in a “velvet sea of cats” as they help her find her way home—a true home. This whimsical book is full of magic and humor. McKay’s writing is lush with descriptive language and clever wordplay. Pigeons haven’t flown away, they’ve flung themselves into the sky. A plane hasn’t hit turbulence, it “quite suddenly…dropped out of the sky and fell down a flight of invisible giant stairs.” Adding to the whimsy are superb illustrations by Rockefeller. His drawings reflect the mood of the scene with easily interpreted facial expressions.
VERDICT A delightful story, this would be a great read-aloud and a possible segue to Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books.

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