Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler

Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler
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Release Date
January 25, 2022
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From the New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist, a biography in verse and prose of science fiction visionary Octavia Butler, author of Parable of the Sower and Kindred.

Acclaimed novelist Ibi Zoboi illuminates the young life of the visionary storyteller Octavia E. Butler in poems and prose. Born into the Space Race, the Red Scare, and the dawning Civil Rights Movement, Butler experienced an American childhood that shaped her into the groundbreaking science-fiction storyteller whose novels continue to challenge and delight readers fifteen years after her death.

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Groundbreaking Biography
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Learning Value
Acclaimed Middle Grade and Young Adult author Zoboi (My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich) was greatly influenced by pioneering novelist Butler, and even got to meet with her before her death in 2006. Hoping to inspire others, who might not often see themselves reflected in science fiction or biographies including people of color, Zoboi has crafted a biography in verse of this influential and groundbreaking writer.

In between the poems about Butler's life, we have quotes by the author as well as family photographs, with brief descriptions about her background. Born in 1947 in California, Butler was raised by her mother after the death of her father when she was four. There's plenty of information about the times in which she lived, from the fall out of World War II to the UFOs mania in Roswell, New Mexico to the baby boom of which she was a part.

Prone to daydreaming in school, Butler's teachers thought that she was slow, but the influences in her novels were often drawn from very early in her life. She was always reading and thinking, even if this was not always apparent to those around her. The Cold War and the Space Race influenced her a lot, as did the Civil Rights Movement.
Good Points
While younger readers might not know Butler's works, her place in the history of science fiction writing is unique and worthy of mention. In the 1950s and 60s, when science fiction writing gained popularity in magazines and novels, most writers were white men. After graduating from high school in 1965, Butler went to college and took creative writing courses, but her instructors didn't quite understand the genre she loved. She eventually made connections in the writing community and attended a science fiction workshop that helped her get on her way to establishing her career. The Parable of the Sower is her most well known work.

Star Child is an interesting blend of poems, information, facsimiles of her notebooks, and is rounded out by Zoboi's description of her interactions with the author when she was starting her own writing career. There are few middle grade biographies of writers, and even fewer that center Black authors, so this is a great read for anyone who is interested in biographies, the history of science fiction writing, or in writing as a career or pastime.
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