Book Review: Starabella, Mystery Girl of Music

Book Review: Starabella, Mystery Girl of Music

Starabella is the heroine of a series of three audio and picture books about a girl with learning differences whose eyes shine like stars when she is happy.  Book one is entitled Starabella: Mystery Girl of Music, and it centers around Starabella’s experiences at home.

“She is the star of her family, like all newborn children are, and her parents recognize that she has some wonderful abilities,” says Sharon Fialco, author of the Starabella series, “but then she begins to lose her words inside her, which is the pattern that happens to many autistic children.”

The book is inspired by Sharon’s daughter, Tara, who deals with autism.  While she was not diagnosed until her twenties, Tara struggled with communication; one way she could express herself and her feelings was through music.  In the book, Starabella “receives a gift of a piano from her grandparents and amazingly, Starabella proves to have musical talent -- she can play any song she’s ever heard and soon begins to compose her own music reflecting her thoughts and feelings and the world around her.”

The picture books also feature an exciting auditory component -- narration and music, both with and without lyrics.  Sharon’s youngest daughter, Dana, does most of the voices and sings many of the songs included in the book.

The narration is underscored with music, which furthers the story and keeps children engaged.  The musical numbers are all well produced and have an appealing sound for many children.  The book even includes lyrics in the back, so children can listen to the soundtrack and sing along.  Dana’s voice is at times soothing and other times engaging, and the narration and songs give the book that extra something special.  Most of the music included in the book was composed by Tara as a child, so the music does appeal to children, as it was told through the eyes of a child. 

Children of all cognitive abilities can enjoy the story, and the book is intended for ages two through eight.  Sharon Fialco says, “Our family’s wish is for all children’s eyes to shine like stars!” and the first book is meant to teach empathy through understanding and give children an appreciation of music and drive to express themselves creatively.

Starabella is a USA Book News Best Books Award Finalist and this first book won the Benjamin Franklin Finalist Award for cover design.  Find Starabella in bookstores, online retailers, and  Read more about the Fialcos and their story here.

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Written by: Cara Batema See other articles by Cara Batema
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