Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Review: Stella Keeps the Sun Up by Clothilde Ewing and IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts every 1st Wednesday of the month and gives writers/authors a chance to admit fears or offer encouragement to those who need it. (started by the fantastic Alex J. Cavanaugh) To join in, click the image for more details! The amazing co-hosts this month are  Joylene Nowell Butler, Jacqui Murray, Sandra Cox, and Lee Lowery!

This month's question: Is there someone who supported or influenced you and isn't around anymore?

That's an easy one to answer. Yes. My mother passed away this last November, and she was one of my biggest supporters...and not just in writing. Every little accomplishment I had, she'd jump on the phone and call my aunts and tell them about it. I think she was more excited about everything than even me. And yes, I do miss her.


And now, for today's review!

The cover on today's review is so full of energy and happiness that it had me smiling the second I saw it. I'm betting this little girl is a ball of joy and probably has a head packed with all sorts of clever ideas. And isn't that hippo cute?

Anyway, the idea of trying to keep the sun up so the day never end sounds like it could include all sorts of humor and nonsense. So, I was more than curious to see how Stella accomplishes this...or at least, how she thinks she's going to do it.

Oh, and this was doesn't come out until March 8th, but it's available for pre-order (of course).

by Clothilde Ewing
Illustrated by Lynn Gaines
Simon and Schuster
Picture Book
48 pages
ages 4 to 8

MARCH 8th!!!

In this incandescently fun, hijinks-filled picture book, a young girl schemes to keep the sun up in the sky so she never has to go to bed.

If Stella had her way, she would stop sleeping on her sixth birthday. Because sleep is boring. And there are so many better things you could be doing. And Stella is tired of being tired. So she comes up with a plan. People only have to go to bed when it gets dark, and it only gets dark because the sun goes down. If she can keep the sun in the sky, she and her best friend, Roger, can stay up for a hundred years!

They enact their magnificent, wonderful, genius plan, offering the sun a cup of coffee, shining a light at it so it will shine back, and jumping on a trampoline to reach the sun and push it higher. But before long, Stella begins to wonder…are there downsides to keeping the sun up forever?



Determination, clever ideas, and a trusty friend at the side are all this girl needs to take on the sun and convince it to stay.

Stella loves to do all sorts of activities, and she's not a fan of bedtime, since she has to sleep all night with nothing to do. It seems a waste. The only way to end this nonsense is to stop the sun from setting. It's not an easy task, but Stella is ready to take on the challenge...and that without her parents knowing what she's up to.

Stella is so full of energy and excitement that it's hard not to smile. The joy of life beams from her. I was glad to see that this doesn't change the entire book through, either. When something doesn't seem to work out the way she hopes, there's no pouting or time for negative thoughts. She just jumps right into the next attempt. This positivity stays all the way to the end thanks to an interesting and sweet twist.

The illustrations are bright and let Stella's personality glow. The hippo on her side is super cute and adds to the fantasy and fun—a talking hippo in sunglasses is definitely a treat. Each spread carries the needed details to let Stella's world open up and switches seamlessly between the reality and fantasy.

While Stella is trying to keep the sun up to keep playing (which is something to think about), there's a long-distance friendship at play. This, unfortunately, is only mentioned very briefly in the beginning before hitting again at the end and might go over some young listeners' heads until explained. Still, this is such a cute read, and I do recommend it.

And here they are...

Clothilde Ewing started her work life as a lifeguard, but she has spent most of her career telling people’s stories as a journalist (CBS News), television producer (The Oprah Winfrey Show), and communications professional. She loves using the written word to honor a child’s imagination and is on a mission to help adults tap into the wonder they felt as children. She believes that one of the greatest lessons we can pass on to our kids is that differences are for celebrating, and that we have more in common than we ever imagined. A native of Cleveland, she lives in Chicago with her husband and two highly energetic children.

Lynn Gaines has been making art for years and is still in love with making it! Born and raised in Ohio, she currently works for American Greetings, but also loves making art for children’s books and kids-related products. She works both digitally and traditionally, often combining the two. She hasn’t met a craft she doesn’t love—sewing is one of her favorite hobbies. She looks for inspiration everywhere and often finds it in bookstores and thrift stores, looking in vintage children’s books and animation, and even in a garden or two. In her spare time, she is a bit of an illustration nerd, loves to roller skate, read, and toy with writing. Lynn lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband Mel, her mom, and two fur-kids and studio mates, Charlie and Harry.


Melissa said...

I dread losing my mother.

Cute book.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for the loss of your mother. It's great that you have such loving memories to cherish. ❤️

Stella Keeps the Sun Up sounds like a delightful book!

Abby Harding Writes said...

I'm so sorry to hear your mother passed. I hope for peace and healing for you.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Your mom sounds like she was absolutely wonderful. I'm sorry to hear she passed and I hope you find comfort and love in your memories of her.
The book about Stella sounds wonderful!
BTW - have you read anything by Corinna Luyken? She has some beautiful picture books out and you might like them.

Tonja Drecker said...

I'm sure she'll be there for years still :)

Tonja Drecker said...

Thank you. She was a wonderful person

Tonja Drecker said...

Thank you. Faith is amazing on that end.

Tonja Drecker said...

Thanks for your words. And nope, I hadn't heard of her, yet, but I'm going to check her out now. Thanks for the tip!

Fundy Blue said...

I'm sorry that you recently lost your mother, Tonja! She sounds like a mother who loved you unconditionally. I understand how difficult it is to loose a mother, but I also know your wonderful memories of her will be with you always.

"Stella" sounds like a great book. Does any kid want to go to bed? LOL? Stella's wand reminded me of a family story I love. My sister Bertie's daughter Sara asked her father Peter to make her a magic wand when she was going on four. Peter was so excited and crafted her a beautiful magic wand. Sara was delighted and ran upstairs to her bedroom. About five minutes later she stomped downstairs furiously and threw the wand down on the floor in front of her father. She said it didn't work and wasn't a real magic wand. Peter, being the awesome dad he is, talked with her calmly and found out she had tried to materialize a computer with the wand, and no computer arrived. Sara's parents couldn't afford a computer for Sara then, so Peter found an old one, some parts to fix it, and rehabbed it for her. She learned that her dad couldn't make a real magic wand, but he could make a computer ~ and yet again how much he loved her. I hope you had fun visiting around today!

Tonja Drecker said...

That's a wonderful story. Peter sounds like an amazing father (with tons of patience and love!). Kids' view of the world can be so eye-opening. Thanks so much for sharing that. You definitely put a smile on my face.

Heather N. Quinn said...

What a wonderful post. And the comments are so interesting and inspirational. I, too, wish to express my sympathy regarding your mum's passing, Tonja. It's so hard to lose our parents; they're so much a part of us. Both my parents are gone, and they were great supporters of mine. I also had a lovely lady, a neighbour called Doreen, who was like a grandma to my children when we lived in England. She was always in my corner. She died over 20 years ago, and I still miss her for her love, her wisdom, her encouragement and her enthusiasm. Thanks for the chance to commemorate her and my parents.

Tonja Drecker said...

Doreen sounds like such a wonderful person, who made such a difference in your life. I'm sure your children will treasure the memories of her as well. It's people like that, which offer the needed light in life.