Review: Brightley & Glow by Sophie Carmen, Illustrated by Christina Sanchez

★★★★½ Brightley & Glow

Brightley & Glow is a delightful “sibling” picture book written by Sophie Carmen, with illustrations provided by Christina Sanchez. Appropriate for children aged two to six, it’s an ideal bedtime story.

Brightley and his younger brother, Glow, are two stars living in the night sky. They’re as close as two siblings can be, often playing hide and seek together and listening to their Grandfather Moon tell his stories. One day, Grandfather Moon announces that Brightley, who is a shooting star, will soon be leaving them to travel the universe, granting wishes to young children everywhere. Glow immediately wants to go as well but he can’t because he’s a shining star and it’s his job to shine in the night sky.

Glow, encouraged by his big brother, nevertheless tries to fly but fails miserably. A very sad Brightley leaves a short time later, reluctantly leaving behind his little brother. However, he doesn’t get very far before he decides to turn back, realizing he doesn’t want to go without Glow. The ecstatic brothers, reunited once again, are surprised to get a visit from the Queen Star, the most magical star in the galaxy. She’s come with a most exciting proposition…

Children’s books, especially those for youngsters, have a dual purpose. On the one hand, they must be entertaining in order to hold a child’s limited attention span, but on the other, they must also promote language and vocabulary while teaching social skills and exposing children to various life lessons. The author, Sophie Carmen, manages to do this with a subtle hand. Brightley & Glow deals with issues of sibling love and attachment, woven together with more magical elements – namely, wishes. Despite the fact that her two main protagonists are stars, their voices are believable and will resonate with children.

Sanchez’s colorful illustrations effortlessly convey energy and movement, popping off the pages as Brightley and his little brother flit about, hiding behind planets as they play their childhood games. The vibrant streaks across the pages invite little fingers, developing their motor skills, to trace their paths, thereby heightening the child’s ability to interact with the story.

Some parents may take issue with the message that you can “wish” your problems away, which might instill unrealistic expectations. However, wishful thinking, unattainable wishes, and birthday wishes are part of the magic of childhood, and what makes this book such a charming read. At its core, there’s a great message that you don’t always have to be what you’re told to be, and you can forge your own path, even if that means sacrificing your own path in care of another. It’s an enormously important message about love and kindness, couched in a fun story about the lives of stars in the sky.

Brightley & Glow illustrates the beauty and absoluteness of childhood love and then juxtaposes it against a more serious life lesson. For those parents looking to add a sweet, positive story to their child’s nighttime story repertoire, this delightful children’s book fits the bill nicely.

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Brightley & Glow