In a series of silver-framed vignettes, a little fox lives contentedly with her family in Airstream-style trailer, a small but ingenious living space with “a kitchen and a radio and a sofa that turned into a bed.” Stella’s sense of security evaporates when a gang of weasels mocks the Starliner (“It’s an old trailer is what it is!” “You must be poor!”). But when Stella’s Daddy hitches the trailer to his pickup truck and moves the family to a place where there are palm trees and shimmering water, Stella makes new friends who think her life in the Starliner is worthy of “A squillionaire!” Curiously, Wells never clarifies the reason behind the relocation, and so a story that draws so much power from its sense of emotional truth concludes with an ending that seems almost too magical. But that’s a small caveat; as income inequality takes it toll on more and more children, this story and its heroine are an important reminder of just how resilient families can—and must—be. Ages 4–8. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Mar.)
[A] gorgeous, good-hearted book.
—The New York Times Book Review
As income inequality takes it toll on more and more children, this story and its heroine are an important reminder of just how resilient families can — and must — be.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
There’s much to admire in both the art and the story. The text is simply written but precise. ... Created using watercolor, gouache, pastel, ink, and colored pencil, the lovely illustrations create a sense of order, safety, and wonder in Stella’s world. This evocative picture book makes an absorbing read-aloud choice for young children.
—Booklist (starred review)
Wells’ winsome animal characters are charming, as always... The casual, colloquial tone suits the simple tale beautifully. ... [T]he variously sized mixed-media illustrations are captivating, featuring lush forests, starry nights, expressive faces and delightful details.
Wells’s illustrations (rendered in watercolor, gouache, pastel, ink, and colored pencil) appear against a summer country landscape alive with swirling stars and sun-dappled trees. While reading this book, children will realize that it’s not the size of one’s house that makes a happy home; it’s the love inside it.
—School Library Journal
Packaged within silver starry-sky endpapers, the illustrations (in watercolor, gouache, pastel, ink, and colored pencil on sanded paper) vary in size from spot art to a striking double-page spread of the flying Starliner. Backgrounds are full of symbols that deepen the story, and words and images work effectively together to develop the setting and this loving family looking out for one another.
—The Horn Book
Many kids will share Stella’s love for a compact and mobile dwelling, and the book vividly depicts the joys of her cozy life... The art has that famous Wells combination of adorableness and artistry; the starry motif, which has a Van Gogh flavor at times, is echoed in delicate pointillism in the landscape detailing. Gleaming silver framing or borders accent most of the spreads, adding to the magic of Stella’s silver home and enhancing appeal for viewers.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
When you are small, there is nothing quite like the awful feeling of having your home or family mocked. It can leave an ache that lingers for years. Rosemary Wells puts a gentle finger on the exact point of pain—and relieves it—in "Stella's Starliner," a picture book for 4- to 8-year-olds filled with vibrant, emotionally resonant illustrations. ... Sensitive and visually delightful pages.
—The Wall Street Journal
Created with watercolor, gouache, pastel, ink, and colored pencil on sanded paper, the handsome illustrations and simple text make it clear Stella has a happy home. ... Not only is this picture book a marvelous example of the different perceptions of others, but it also shows how hurtful words can be. This picture book would be perfect for sharing with a class at the start of the year as a reminder not to judge others by where they live or their economic status.
—Reading Today Online
Author-illustrator Wells creates gorgeous, dreamy landscapes to linger over for long minutes.
—The Sunday Plain Dealer
PreS-Gr 2—Stella, a red fox, is proud of her family's trailer home. It has cozy corners, fun hiding places, and a color that resembles the stars. When some older weasels call it a tin can, she hides her sadness at their hurtful comments from her mom so she won't "feel the stings, too." The problem is resolved, though, as the trailer home takes flight to a new location, where Stella meets new friends, in what appears to be a vivid fantasy sequence. The small camper that looked cheap to the weasels makes her new playmates envious. With bunnies Grace and Stumpy sharing a meal with her in the trailer, Stella feels like a "squillionaire" once again. Wells's illustrations (rendered in watercolor, gouache, pastel, ink, and colored pencil) appear against a summer country landscape alive with swirling stars and sun-dappled trees. While reading this book, children will realize that it's not the size of one's house that makes a happy home; it's the love inside it.—Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada
Wells' winsome animal characters are charming, as always, but her latest effort lacks coherence and depth. The casual, colloquial tone suits the simple tale beautifully. Stella, a fox child, lives a happy life, secure in her parents' love and seemingly unaware of her straitened circumstances. She loves her small, shiny trailer home, enjoys spending time with her mother and looks forward to her father's weekly return on Sundays. Then some unfriendly weasels point out her poverty. Saddened, Stella tries to keep her emotions hidden, but her mother teases the truth out of her. Unfortunately, instead of allowing Stella to sort things out herself, Wells decides to solve her problems geographically. Stella's dad hooks up the house trailer and hauls it to another, more welcoming (and tropical) locale, where the new neighbors greet Stella and her home with awe and enthusiasm. The abrupt ending may leave listeners wondering exactly what happened. They're also likely to be confused by the contrast between scenes that suggest a mid-20th-century rural setting and the inline skates and baggy pants sported by the weasels. Overall, however, the variously sized mixed-media illustrations are captivating, featuring lush forests, starry nights, expressive faces and delightful details. Fans of Wells' work will likely embrace Stella's story, but some may wish she'd been allowed to confront her problems rather than just running away from them. (Picture book. 5-8)