1719 Don’t close your eyes

When Stars Arise
by E.G. Alaraj (text) and Martyna Czub (illustrations)

Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 2023
$10.95 / 9781459835665

Reviewed by Cassidy Lea


A sweet story to send little ones to sleep, When Stars Arise is the perfect addition to a bedtime routine. The author, E.G. Alaraj, crafts a poetic account of the close of the day, taking readers (and listeners) through the steps from play to bath, and finally, to sleep. But only when “at last, the stars arise” do the little ones get permission to close their eyes. Lyrical rhyme makes this picture book both engaging and soothing, and because the story centres around a bedtime routine, it is sure to reinforce the bedtime rituals that many parents already have in place for their children. The repetition of “the stars arise” throughout the book only adds to the rhythmic quality of the story, and the verse is a pleasure to read and to listen to. The constant refrain of “don’t close your eyes” may be just the thing to trick contrary little ones into falling asleep in spite of themselves. The repeated admonition acts as a fun, reverse-psychology way to get young children ready for bed, especially around that time when toddlers learn to say the word, “no.” Overall, the story itself is sweet and calming, and will be one that both parents and children are happy to read again and again.

Artist Martyna Czub of Western Shore, Nova Scotia
Vancouver author E.J. (Evangeline) Alraj. Photo by Allison Youseff














Whimsical watercolour illustrations by Martyna Czub accompany Alaraj’s story. The soft colours fit well with the soothing aspect of the story, and Czub displays the transition from wakefulness to sleep as her illustrations move from the brightness of day, to the soft glow of sunset, to the darkness of night. The gradual deepening of the colours as the book wanders towards bedtime adds to the sleep-inducing quality of the story. Filled with soft, muted colours, friendly animals, and idyllic paintings that are sure to send children slipping off to dreamland, this book is as much of a delight to look at as it is to read.

Meant to be “a gentle lullaby for the journey to bedtime,” When Stars Arise is geared towards young toddlers, but is sure to be enjoyed by families with older children as well. Given the repetition, end rhymes, and sing-song quality of the verse, this would also be an ideal book to go through with children who are just learning to read. The rhythm of the story accentuates the rhythm and routine that accompanies the end of the day preparation for bedtime, and it ultimately leads to the dawn of a new day.

This beautiful book with its song-like verse and fanciful illustrations will have parents and children alike ready for when “the twinkling stars arise.”


Cassidy Lea

Cassidy Lea is a Thompson Rivers University Alumnus with a double Major in English and Psychology. She loves reading and writing, but isn’t too fond of arithmetic. She enjoys going for walks, curling up with a good book, and spending time with her family. Editor’s note: Cassidy Lea has also reviewed books by LS Stone, Trevor AtkinsFrances Greenslade, and — writing as Cassidy Jean — Natelle Fitzgerald for The British Columbia Review.


The British Columbia Review

Publisher and Editor: Richard Mackie

Formerly The Ormsby Review, The British Columbia Review is an on-line book review and journal service for BC writers and readers. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Wade Davis, Robin Fisher, Barry Gough, Hugh Johnston, Kathy Mezei, Patricia Roy, Maria Tippett, and Graeme Wynn. Provincial Government Patron (since September 2018): Creative BC. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies.

“Only connect.” – E.M. Forster

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