A tale of vanity, friendship, and all the ways to value or devalue appearance, Star Bright and the Looking Glass is a great fable, which conveys a message that can resonate with readers of all ages. The book never felt like it got too preachy with its lessons, but instead lingered just long enough to have them sink in.
The book has an adorably cute mythology. While talking animals are nothing new, Owl, Toad, and Capybara (seriously, there's a Capybara) are all adorable. Even as they are often depicted as one unit, as the animal friends to Star Bright, they express unique personalities. It was really nice not to see Owl lean on any “Who” jokes or Frog be all about his long tongue. Star Bright focuses on other aspects to these animals, instead of the tired notes used in most other works.
Star Bright's storybook style of storytelling works rather well. The art in this volume is tremendous with some neat visuals ranging from the way Owl, Frog, and Capybara orient themselves, to the depictions of magic, to what a boar bristle brush would look like. The coloring for this book is particularly interesting, using a water coloring, oil, and acrylic blend, which works with the original art to depict some of the best-looking character models I've seen in story-based art. The technique used for the characters and the technique used for the setting are both beautiful in their own right, but in some places the two don't seem to mix, with the characters standing out as more vibrant than some of the backdrops.
The story of Star Bright is as cute and touching as the art; the pacing of the tale as a whole is well plotted but the amount of text for each page is skewed. Some pages have only a single line of text, while others have anywhere from five to nine paragraphs of text. While there is certainly more story to be told for these wordier scenes, hitting the long blocks of text slows the story down at what should be its most dramatic points. I'd like to have seen a few more pages for these scenes with the dialogue distributed a little more evenly to maintain a faster pace. Younger readers in particular may have a harder time at these slow points. Speaking of, while Star Bright feels like it's speaking to an all-ages audience most of the time, it does use some higher vocabulary. Words like “arduous,” “emulate,” and, of course, “Capybara” are not words a lot of younger readers are going to have encountered. Star Bright never uses harsh language or anything inappropriate for younger readers, but its vocabulary may lead to a few more questions about “What's happening?” or “What's that?” to any supervising adults.
While the book's wording might go in some odd directions, overall Star Bright and the Looking Glass is a well-told moral story, a gorgeously drawn book, and a fantastic addition to the world of fairy tales.