The January Stars (Kate Constable, A&U)
Fans of Kate Constable’s previous titles Crow Country and Cicada Summer will welcome the release of her latest middle-grade novel, The January Stars. This story introduces 12-year-old Clancy, yet another pitch-perfect female protagonist that, like the characters Constable has created before, will surely be relatable to young Australians. When her parents are called overseas to handle an unfolding drama with her uncle, Clancy is whisked away with older sister Tash and stroke-surviving Pa on an unexpectedly rollicking journey. (In the author’s note, Constable writes that she was inspired by true events in her own life and wished to explore the ways families carry on after the devastation of stroke and aphasia.) Despite the chaos and complications, Clancy and the other characters in her family are immediately likeable. The story is tightly paced and engaging, offering up cleverly written dialogue with an endearing sense of humour. This novel would be easy to pitch to almost any middle-grader. A spate of recent releases in Australia and internationally focus on young people obsessed with outer space and the cosmos, but The January Stars adds something new to the trend. It captures the importance of resilience and the complexity of family love, while also reminding readers that without the dark, we wouldn’t have the stars.
Karys McEwen is the library manager at Prahran and Richmond High School and the president of the CBCA VIC Branch