In Starfall, Toronto performer, writer, and director Diana Kolpak has transferred her considerable theatrical skills to the page. Enlivened by Kathleen Finlay’s striking photography, Starfall tells the story of Meera, a lonely clown who dreams of warmth and sunshine in a world of ice. Meera’s world is surreal and wintry, made cold and forbidding by the absence of stars, which have all fallen from the sky.
When a dreamlike voice whispers that Meera must look for three signs to find the stars – believe, be brave, and shine – she sets out on her journey. On the way, she travels through strange, magical places and encounters a few friendly strangers who help her find the pathway to the stars. Meera goes up against the evil Spinner, who snatches all those who cross his path, and later meets a “tall, tall man” who tells her she has recovered the stars with “the kiss on your cheek, the strength in your steps, the hope in your heart.” Meera realizes that the light she seeks is within her, and lets it shine, returning all of the stars to the sky and melting away the ice and snow.
Starfall presents a starkly beautiful, original world. Finlay’s images are sophisticated, fantastical, and unique, though a couple of the photos – such as the person caught by the Spinner in a swath of fabric – may be a little disturbing for younger readers. However, Kolpak’s lyrical, melodic prose is reassuring, and in spite of its light tone, the story works on two levels: as a whimsical tale about a clown, and as an allegory for the triumph of courage and belief over evil and darkness.