Thursday, June 22, 2017

Hello Stars – Alena Pitts (with Wynter Pitts)

©2017  Zonderkids, Grand Rapids

The author of this book is a young (very young) actress/model who got her start in the recent film War Room. She teams up with her mother to pen this book about a young girl who literally falls into an acting role.

In some respects, Hello Stars is fairly easy to categorize—it’s a book by a twelve-year-old girl writing about an eleven-year-old girl and what can happen if life takes a turn. Choosing to abide by the writer’s motto, “write what you know,” Alena tells a story that could be very similar to her own. Is it any wonder that the book is targeted to preteen girls? It is a book that brings faith to the forefront in both family and workplace settings. Even with all of this right up front, the book itself categorizes itself in a laundry list of titles: it is part of the “faithGirlz” books developed by Zondervan’s Zonderkids division; it proclaims on the cover that it is the first in the “Lena in the Spotlight” series (which advertises book 2, Day Dreams and Movie Screens, is available in bookstores and online). So, choose a category and settle in for a nice story.

The story, told from the voice of 11-year-old Lena Daniels, brings the reader into the heart and mind of a preteen girl. She has her special friends at school, she loves her family, and she would just die to meet her favorite singer, Mallory. When she prays that her video greeting to Mallory will win her an opportunity to spend time with the singer, she is convinced that it’s a flop. And then the call comes that Lena has been chosen to star opposite Mallory in an upcoming movie based on faith.

The book is a good read and will appeal to its target audience for a variety of reasons. It speaks in a voice that is familiar to them, it addresses topics and dreams that most (if not every) preteen girl is concerned with, and it bears a positive message about faith and God.

As with any book of this nature, and especially first outings for an author, the story does have some drawbacks. It will have limited appeal even among young female readers because it has a tendency to “preach” a lot. Not that the sermons are bad, but it may find its way only into the hands of girls of faith. The tone and message of the book will help this limited audience to grow in faith (just as the main character does), but if the desire is to reach an audience outside the Christian community, the authors and the publisher will find an uphill battle.

All in all, I’d have to give the book 4 out of 5 reading glasses for a really fun summer adventure offered by a first-time author. I did find myself enjoying the family I met in the pages of Hello Stars (almost to the point of checking out book 2) even if I’m not a preteen girl (I am the father of one, though).

—Benjamin Potter, June 22, 2017

(I received this book from the publisher for the express purposes of this review.)

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