Rosa By Starlight

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Pub Date 8 Aug 2024 | Archive Date 18 Jul 2024

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From the Costa Award-winning author Hilary McKay, comes the story of a young girl looking for magic in the world, and the feline family who help her to find it.

Rosa lives in a world where she discovers there is magic. It arrives with Balthazar, a large black cat, just when she needs it most. Even so, it takes all her courage to stay hopeful and adventurous when her dreadful aunt and uncle move into her life.

And when she finds herself abandoned in the ancient city of Venice, can magic help her then? Perhaps it can.

The stars are watching, and there are lots of cats in Venice…

Please note: This is an uncorrected digital proof. Reviewers are requested to check all quotations against the published edition. Price and publication date are subject to change without notice.

From the Costa Award-winning author Hilary McKay, comes the story of a young girl looking for magic in the world, and the feline family who help her to find it.

Rosa lives in a world where she...

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ISBN 9781529074512
PRICE £12.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 17 members

Featured Reviews

A delightful children’s story, perfect for children and adults to share together. A young girl has an unexpected adventure and finds a place she is loved. This reminded me of Ronald Dahl and Lemony Snicket books. I’m glad Hilary McKay wrote this book and not the totally different one she set out to write! Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Books and NetGalley for the ARC. The views expressed are all mine,freely given.

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This book looks absolutely gorgeous and magical. I cannot wait to share my full thoughts and review. I apologize I’m slowly catching up on reviews due to an unexpected medical, condition, but this is definitely top of my list.

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I loved reading about Rosa and the challenges facing her following the loss of her parents. Cue a highly pampered feline, a trip to Venice and the scene is set for a magical adventure for those brave enough to believe and hope. I loved the intriguing start to the book and found myself smiling when this made sense.

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Hilary McKay hits the spot again with a fantastically exciting story that will grab kids and have them devour page after page. I can almost hear the groans when they’re told to stop reading and sleep or that it’s the end of the school day so no more time to read. Brilliant brilliant book.

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This is a beautiful story about a young orphan who is raised with the utmost coldness by her mysterious Aunt and Uncle who show up shortly after her parents die.

A great book for lovers of magical storytelling and cats. Not necessarily in that order. Balthazar the cat was terrific. I loved it this book - and I'm a dog person! Highly recommended.

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What a stange, unusual and magical tale. Set in the beautiful city of venive, full of cats and magic, we travel alongside Rosa as she discovers her realself. I requested the book because I have enjoyed others by this author and i was not dissapointed. The illustrations are an added delight.

If you want short easy read with all the drama of an orphan (Rosa), magic, Venice, cats, love, wicked guardians and a reason not to cover the world in plastic grass, then this is the book for you.

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A wonderfully picturesque story of unrealised magic and family history by Hilary. I loved the Casson family books and this had small echoes of those. The beautiful illustrations by Keith Robinson brought Venice to life visually as well as mentally.
Highly recommended.

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I don't think Hilary McKay has written a book I didn't love and what is amazing is the different genres she so seemingly effortlessly explores from the large family dynamics of the Cassons to the mid century coming of age delight of the Swallows and Skylarks. And now, with Rosa by Starlight, she has given us an utterly delightful book about orphans, cats and magic, a winning combination and one I couldn't resist.
The titular Rosa's parents died when she was very small and she has been raised (if you could call it that) by an uncle and aunt who are at first indifferent and then downright sinister. We know from the start they are bad uns because they want to cover the world in plastic grass, a sign of a villain if ever I saw one, and hate plants and cats. Under their uncaring regime Rosa shrinks into herself, her only friend a local cat with magical abilities and lordly tendancies. So when her uncle and aunt agree to take her to Venice, it feels both hugely exciting and very wrong.
Poignant, gorgeously written, wildly imaginative and wholly original, this is a wonderful book. Buy it for all the children you know - and then for yourself. Highly recommended.

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Having visited Venice last year and loving the cats (and lions) I found there this book was always going to appeal, and it didn't disappoint - the mix of orphan story and magical realism felt just right for the setting and the book was a delight from start to finish - especially with Keith Robinson's illustrations.

I love all that McKay writes and am in awe of her talent at writing such compelling books that appeal to all ages.

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At the end of 2023, I decided that my New Year’s resolution for the forthcoming year would again be a book-related one – one that not only did I stand a chance of achieving, but one that I might enjoy. Having promised myself that I would read more Young Adult titles in 2023, this year I thought it prudent to make a dent in my TBR pile and so decided that each month I would read at least one title that was already sitting there, in addition to those arriving to be reviewed.

After only managing one read in both January and February, March brought an unexpected visit to the dentist for treatment and, feeling sorry for myself and in need of a treat, I picked up The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay. Having been blown away by that gorgeous story, when I spotted her latest title on Net Galley and noticed that it was illustrated by Keith Robinson, whose covers for the Aveline Jones series are brilliant, I just had to request it. When the approval came through, I bumped it straight to the top of the pile and read it in a day. Written with enormous empathy, with a delightful protagonist and a sprinkling of magic, this is a gorgeous middle grade that I’m sure will be hugely popular with its audience as they are transported to the beautiful city of Venice.

Before then, we meet Rosa Mundi, who orphaned at the tender age of four has spent the last eight years in the charge of her cold and uncaring aunt and uncle. Thinking back to when she was first placed in their care, Rosa reflects on the curious, magical arrival of cat Balthazar in her life whose presence has since been a source of comfort to her and the many changes that have taken place in her home since her guardians’ arrival.

Routinely locked into her bedroom at night, Rosa soon learns to escape through her window into the garden to spend time with her furry friend and to seek solace in her book of fairy tales to provide some welcome relief from her miserable existence as her aunt and uncle do their best to ignore her as much as possible whilst running their business.

When they plan a work trip to Venice, they are forced to take Rosa with them and very soon their niece finds herself abandoned in the city. With no family or friends to turn to, how will Rosa manage in her new surroundings? And will the magic that brought her Balthazar bring her a way through?

Orphans so often have a grim time in children’s books and Rosa is no exception. While she hasn’t been kicked out on the street by the relatives who arrive to care for her, she is starved of love by them – love that she so desperately needs and has an abundance of to give, as she demonstrates in her relationship with Balthazar and again later on in the story, making her a character that young readers will really feel for. So very ordinary in almost all respects, this empathy for her that the author’s writing promotes combined with the very realness of her sweeps you up and encourages you to keep turning the pages in the hopes that each new one will bring her the chance of happiness that she so very much deserves.

I’m sure I won’t be the only one reminded of the Roald Dahl classic Matilda reading this. There are definite parallels with that read, with Rosa’s aunt and uncle taking the roles of Mr and Mrs Wormwood, but this does not contain the slapstick humour of that title. Instead, this is a much more mature story – one that will appeal to a slightly older and more confident readership, who will revel in its gorgeous narrative. I very much enjoyed it and would recommend it to those in Year 4 upwards, especially to those in search of a shorter than usual middle grade – this comprises 240 pages, including those with Keith Robinson’s illustrations which complement the text wonderfully well.

As always, my enormous thanks go to publisher Macmillan Children’s Books and to Net Galley for my advance virtual read. Rosa by Starlight publishes 8th August.

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When Rosa is suddenly orphaned, two things happen. First, her awful aunt and uncle arrive to “look after her” (which they do in only the most basic sense), and Balthazar, a cat from a neighbouring house, reveals his magic to her.

The aunt and uncle are marvellously evil, straight from the Roald Dahl school of ghastly relatives, and it is a joy when they inevitably receive their comeuppance in Venice, where they have taken and then abandoned Rosa. And it is in Venice that the true extent of feline magic saves Rosa, and she is liberated.

A delightful and magical story for middle grade readers, I shall be buying a copy for my cat-mad niece.

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After The Skylark’s War and at The Swallows Flight, Hilary McKay has taken a different path with this magical fairytale- like adventure

Rosa has magical powers or can see the extraordinary within the ordinary- this begins with a neighbourhood cat called Balthazar who brings new wonders into her life after being orphaned. She finds that her earlier childhood fades as she is taken under the control of an evil aunt and uncle who want to cover the world in artificial grass.

Rather like a traditional tale, Rosa finds herself alone and often locked in her bedroom but she develops ability to climb from her room and join Balthazar- she finds a connection with the cat and a form of communication .and friendship

Her aunt and uncle decide that Venice needs the world of astroturf and embark on a journey to The City of Canals and soon abandon Rosa. She attempts to navigate a strange city and a place with a different language whilst still finding herself drawn to the feline world…. More adventures ensue and the magic around her grows stronger

This is story of hope after tragedy and recognising that it’s ok not to follow the crowd and be yourself.

Hilary McKay has written a wonderful tale- a lovely read for 8-11 year olds who still love a story that is full of fantasy and adventure , gives a nod to the fairytales of the past and has a heroine who is determined to succeed at all costs but with a heart of kindness.

A lovely book to read alone or a bedtime / class group read

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Rosa by Starlight is a dreamy novel full of surreal humour and whimsy. A gentle fantasy about magic, escapism and the meaning of home… and cats…lots of cats.

I was first enticed to read Rosa by Starlight when I saw Keith Robinson’s beautiful cover. And then came the prologue- a sensational piece of writing that took my breath away.

Rosa’s life has taken a terrible turn and when her aunt and uncle materialise, things get even worse.

From the outset, I sensed something surreal about this novel. This came from details like the diametric physical characteristics of Rosa’s two new ‘guardians’ and the quirky description of the awkward conversations between little Rosa and her neighbours in the opening chapter. And then, when all seems lost, through the window (the glass-literally) comes Balthazar- a big black cat, who brings hope, a touch of magic and some class to the proceedings! There are lots of other rather random, surreal moments peppered throughout, which added to the quirky charm of the novel.

When Rosa is transported to Venice following another surreal turn of events, she seems more lost than ever; but Venice is a place where magic can happen and where lots and lots of cats assemble!

It’s interesting that the prologue focuses a lot on time: there’s something dream-like and almost timeless about the setting, apart from the odd reference that anchors the story to an approximate time period. Time has another important role to play in the novel as we near the end.

I enjoyed Rosa by Starlight and loved the playful prose. I’m looking forward to picking out some more books by Hilary McKay.

Suitable for readers aged 8 and above.

Thanks to the author, Macmillan Children’s Books and Netgalley for and the eARC.

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I love Hilary McKay’s books so much. They’re always warm and charming and you know you’re in safe hands. Rosa By Starlight is no exception, but it is a bit of a departure, featuring actual (unexplained) magic. Rosa is an adorable character and I loved the descriptions of Venice, but I think perhaps the cats stole the show. Just lovely.

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This book was absolutely enchanting. It had a sense of whimsy that for me evoked the feeling of the wonderful Eva Ibbotson's novels. A heartwarming story of an orphan's journey full of hope and magic set in enchanting Venice - the book's illustrations were spellbinding. 100% recommend.

Many thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

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A new Hilary McKay book is always a treat to savour and Rosa by Starlight is no exception. With her trademark warmth and wit, McKay shows children that with hope and friendship they can overcome anything and there will always be a brighter day ahead. Beautiful storytelling and characters you will want to tuck in your pocket and carry with you. I loved every moment of it.
Carmen Haselup, Chapter34Books

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A delightfully magical story. If you want a quick and compelling read that is totally original, then this is the book for you.

When Rosa becomes an orphan at an early age, an unknown aunt and uncle decide to take on the role of guardians. They are distant and cold right from the start and waste no time removing all homely comforts. As a result, Rosa finds herself relying on the company of a mysterious pampered black cat called Balthazar. However, a cancelled school trip sees the aunt and uncle whisk Rosa away to Venice in order to abandon the child they consider to be dull. It is here that the magical adventure begins!

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