Star of Fear, Star of Hope is the story of Lydia and Helen, two friends living in France, 1942. The German army invades their home country, but the girls continue with school. One day, Lydia’s mother sews a yellow star on Lydia’s jacket, and this is the start of change. The girls do not understand the stars or why it is necessary. Lydia’s mother tells them, “The place for stars is in the sky….when people take them down from the sky and sew them on their clothes, it only brings trouble.” The reader senses the trouble rising, with a mood of fear and foreboding.
And poignantly, Lydia’s mother adds,
“Stars at morning, better take warning. Stars at night, hope is in sight.”
The words of Lydia’s mother stay with Helen over the years, as she tells the story now, decades later as an old woman. As young girls, Helen and Lydia planned a night together to celebrate Helen’s 9th birthday. But as the girls wait for Helen’s parents to return, it becomes apparent that something is happening in the city. Two people appear late at night, with stars on their clothes, using code words to look for safe houses. Helen’s parents take Lydia home and Helen is angry. She yells at her friend, feeling hurt and abandoned. The next morning, the streets of Paris are filled with police, searching for Jews to evacuate. Helen is worried. They search but cannot find Lydia or her family. Helen is left with Lydia’s birthday gift to her, a home made doll, which Helen calls Lydia. Lydia also made clothes for the doll, even a jacket with a star.
While the illustrations convey the darkness, sorrow, and despair of World War II, the pages also contain light, found in the streetlights, windows, hall lights, and the light shining above the doll and clothes that Helen unwraps on this day of darkness in Paris. Throughout the story is the hope that Lydia’s mother mentions to the girls on the first page. Stars at night, hope is in sight. The story ends with the hope that Helen will one day find Lydia, hopefully an old woman with children and grandchildren, happy to find her friend. Stars are also found throughout the story, beginning with the stars that Lydia’s mother sews and ending with the “stars at night, hope is in sight.”
This story is one which will move the reader with both its words and images. Student will learn about this part of the Holocaust, a piece of history in which thousands of Jews were torn from their homes by the German army and sent to concentration camps. This book serves as an excellent resource in teaching about the Holocaust. It is a story to be read, remembered, and shared.
Resources on Vélodrome d’Hiver
Vélodrome d’Hiver began on July 16, 1942.