7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #764: Featuring Yuyi Morales

h1 October 10th, 2021 by jules

“Child, you are awake!
Breathe in, then breathe out, hermosa creatura.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


Bright Star (Neal Porter Books, September 2021), written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, nearly thrums with tenderness. In this story, a fawn is born in the desert (pictured above). “You are ALIVE! You are a bright star inside our hearts,” we read on the spread that follows; it is the fawn’s mother who seems to be narrating.

In pages rife with symbolism (which observant readers can pick up on and which is also explained in the book’s closing author’s note), we watch as the fawn explores. But soon danger arrives: The palette darkens; smoke fills the sky; and search lights shine. The fawn and other animals, as they try to escape the danger, run into a huge concrete wall. Barbed wire hangs atop it, and destroyed cacti litter the ground. “NO!”

The narrator acknowledges the fawn’s fears but lovingly guides the creature to “imagine a new story. You imagine … the most beautiful world.” This spread, pictured below, reveals a brown-skinned child, who turns and looks direclty at readers. The final spread depicts more humans: “You are a bright star inside our hearts.”

In remarkably textured illustrations — made with acrylics, digital paintings, photography (for particualar textures in the artwork), and embroidery — Morales spins this evocative story of hope. There is a lot take in; re-reads bring even more visual rewards. The book is a love song to children — “I made this book,” Morales writes in a closing note, “because I want you to know that no matter where you are, where you’ve come from, or where you are going, you should always be honored, respected, cared for, and loved” — but it is an especially poignant acknowledgement of (as she also writes in that same note) “migrant children at the borderlands [who] have experienced things that they should never have to endure.” Morales also explains in the book’s backmatter that she began writing the story in the spring of 2019 when she saw caravans of people reach the border between Mexico and the U.S., only to be detained, separated from their families, or sent back to their home countries without their children.

I encourage you to find a physical copy of this one. The elements of design throughout are striking. Be sure, for instance, to remove the dustjacket. A Spanish edition releases simultaneously.

The Shelf Awareness review describes this one as “both a lullaby and a cry for survival.” Yes, that. Both.

Here are some spreads. ….


“… let it out. Shout it loud!
Let the world know what you feel!”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“And you imagine a new story.
You imagine …”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“… the most beautiful world.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


BRIGHT STAR. Text and illustrations copyright © 2021 by Yuyi Morales. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Neal Porter Books, Holiday House, New York.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) A bike ride through beautiful Shelby Bottoms Park in Nashville.

2) A long hike in sprinkly rain.

3) Vegan tacos at Nashville’s Farmer’s Market.

4) Listening to Dustin O’Halloran as I type this post:



5) Hearing Margaret Renkl talk about her new book at the virtual 2021 Southern Festival of Books.

6) This past Friday, I wrapped up a three-week freelance assignment (Young Readers’ Editor at Kirkus, while they looked for a full-time editor) that was a lot like squeezing in a full-time job around all the other work I have in my life, and I survived. And learned a lot.

7) At Instagram, illustrator Chris Raschka has been sharing portraits of his mother (“#conversationswithmymother”), and this one really struck me:



BONUS) I’m typing this on what would have been my late brother’s 51st birthday. He made a huge impact on my life, and I was immensely lucky to have him for a brother for 29 years. I’m going to go with what Raschka’s mother said and hope that nothing in the universe is ever really lost, including him.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

3 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #764: Featuring Yuyi Morales”

  1. Hi Imps! Good morning to that sweet fawn. Thank you for sharing your work, Yuyi! Wow to that review quote.

    Jules: Sending good thoughts to you and your family in honor of your brother. Congrats on wrapping your gig, and managing to incorporate it into your already packed schedule! I hope that you can take a breather this weekend. Thank you for sharing that lovely piano piece.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Layers
    2) Finished
    3) Smooth
    4) Control
    5) Connecting
    6) Communication
    7) Good

  2. Love these gorgeous and moving illustrations. So beautiful, so detailed, so magical and full of life.

    Jules – Bike rides, hikes in the rain and vegan tacos sound like a perfect week. Congrats on finishing up the 3-week gig! Sending you and your family so much love today, may your memories and love for your brother continue to be a blessing in your life.

    Little Willow – Your kicks have such a beautiful flow this week, especially love how 3 through 7 seem to tell a story with a wonderful ending.

    My kicks this week:
    1) The good news of a case being dismissed for a client.
    2) Crisp, sunshiny fall days.
    3) Virtual yoga classes.
    4) Getting a massage for the first time in 18 months.
    5) This article about the Velaslavasay Panorama in LA, such a weird, wonderful place I want to visit in the future: https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2021-10-04/velaslavasay-panorama-offers-unique-things-to-do-la
    6) Being reminded via this West Wing twitter script from October 2020 that October 2021, while full of problems, is such an improvement to the “stomach-in-knots-all-the-time” feelings I had this time last year.
    7) Daisy’s obvious joy whenever we arrive at her underwater treadmill sessions.
    7.5) Little moments of joy every day.

    Have a great week Imps!

  3. Little Willow: Once again, I want to make a poem out of your evocative kicks.

    Rachel: Love that last, bonus kick. Love to hear about Daisy. Love that first kick too. Oh, how much would I love a professional massage? A lot. Sounds dreamy. Glad you treated yourself.

    Have a good week, you two!

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