Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler

Star Child cover
Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler by Ibi Zoboi

By Ibi Zoboi
Dutton, 2022
128 pages

Age 12 and older

“Our collective stories / are out there in the universe / and they become part of her  / constellation / her vision for the future / born out of the imagination / of a little brown girl / who dreamed up new worlds.” (from “Stargazing”) An inspired biography uses poems and prose to explore the life of groundbreaking African American speculative and science fiction writer Octavia Butler, whose writing helped define what is known as Afrofuturism. The engaging work reveals the life of a singular child who became a visionary writer, one who didn’t see herself reflected in the science fiction she grew up reading and watching and so created new worlds and works that have given countless others what she lacked: stories centering Black and brown characters, usually women. The narrative is framed around the motif of stars and the universe, with both the prose chapters and the poems connecting thematically and, in the case of concrete poems, structurally to the theme. Substantial quotes from Octavia Butler are incorporated throughout, these set off typographically from author Ibi Zoboi’s poems and prose. A final chapter, “Kindred,” shifts from third to first person as Zoboi talks about her own experience as a reader of Butler, and as an aspiring writer who got to meet and work with her at a writer’s workshop, underscoring that Butler is most certainly a writer whose life connects to that of contemporary readers even as she created work that is forward thinking and timeless. ©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center