Shota and the Star Quilt


October 03, 2001|By Margaret Bateson-Hill

* Editor's note: An outsider finds love and acceptance from an unlikely source.

There was once a man who lived at the top of a tower in the middle of a big city. He claimed he had fallen to the earth as a shooting star, eager to win the riches and power he had seen in his wanderings of the night sky.

Riches had bought him half of the city, but he had found neither love nor happiness. Every lonely night he would climb to the top of his tower and gaze up at the night sky, remembering the song his mother had sung to him:

Find the star that's a gift from the skies.

In its patchwork of light, true happiness lies.

But the star was not to be found and, dropping his gaze earthward to the happy homes that surrounded his tower, a bitterness filled his heart. The following morning he would send out the order to buy these homes for "development."

In the same city, not far from the Starman's tower, lived two girls called Shota and Esther. The girls were preparing to visit Shota's grandmother, Rose Flying Eagle. The day before their journey a letter arrived -- the envelope was stamped with a strange picture of a man's face shaped like a star. Shota's father read the letter aloud:

Starman Property Development Company has acquired this apartment building for development. You are hereby given notice (three months) to vacate these premises.

He threw the letter onto the table. He was angry and upset. "Yet again we are told to give up our homes -- some things never change."

Shota turned to her mother: "Can Mr. Starman take away our homes?"

"Well, he is a rich and powerful man," she replied, "So he probably can."

In the middle of the night, Shota was still wide awake. Looking out the window, she thought "I must go out and look at the stars!"

There, laying at her feet, was a flat, white stone. She bent down to pick it up. It was the perfect shape of a diamond and seemed to twinkle and sparkle -- like a small fragment from one of the faraway stars dancing high above her.

When Shota awoke late the next morning, her night adventure seemed like a dream -- but there in her hand was the diamond-shaped stone.

Still holding the stone, she went to find her grandmother and Esther. They were looking at the quilt on Unci's bed.

"Shota has one, just like this, on her bed," she heard Esther saying.

"Yes," replied Unci. "It's a star quilt, I gave it to her when she moved because the bright city lights make it so difficult to see the stars" Suddenly she broke off, "Why Shota, what's the matter?" Shota was staring at the quilt.

"My stone, it's the same as the diamonds -- look!" she cried.

She placed the stone on one of the diamonds. It was a perfect fit.

"Now I know what we must do," said Shota. "We must make a star quilt to celebrate our homes!"

Neighbors came to help, until the quilt was finished. Everyone stood silently marveling at it, until Shota's mother spoke.

"Shota and Esther, you have made something very special -- this quilt is a mirror of the love shared in our homes. We are very proud of you!" Everybody started cheering and clapping.

Shota nudged Esther. "We must look for Mr. Starman himself. I bet we'll find his office at the very top of the tower."

Shota and Esther stepped out into a large room. A man was sitting by the window looking out at the sky. Unaware of the two girls, he started to sing:

Find the star that's a gift from the skies.

In its patchwork of light, true happiness lies.

They listened in amazement. This song was about their quilt. "Excuse me, Sir" said Esther in her loudest voice. "We've brought you the star -- it's here on the quilt!"

Together, the two girls held up the quilt. Startled, the Starman leapt from his chair. When he saw the quilt he stared in wonder -- the morning sun streamed in through the window, catching the diamonds of color.

"We made the quilt," said Shota, "to show you how much we love our homes. Please Mr. Starman, don't make us move away."

The Starman stared at the quilt with tear-filled eyes. Finally he spoke.

"So here it is at last -- the star where true happiness lies. What great happiness! A home! Family! Friends I could be happy, if I was surrounded by so much love."

For the first time in his life the Starman understood what he had done. Looking out of the window he saw the endless rows of office buildings that had replaced so many happy homes, and he felt ashamed. Looking at the girls he declared, "I promise not to take away your homes. Now please go away and leave me alone."

But the girls could not leave this man locked in such loneliness. Suddenly they knew what they must do. Carefully they wrapped the quilt around the Starman.

"I hope you find your happiness," whispered Shota. "I've found mine!"

Excerpted from SHOTA AND THE STAR QUILT by Margaret Bateson-Hill, also the author of Lao Lao of Dragon Mountain and Masha and the Firebird. Text copyright c 1998 by Margaret Bateson-Hill. Illustrations copyright c 1998 by Christine Fowler. Reprinted by permission of publisher Zero to Ten (distributed by IPG). ISBN: 1-84089-023-1. Available in bookstores nationwide or by calling 800-888-4741. All rights reserved.

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