Stars of the Night

The Courageous Children of the Czech Kindertransport

  • Interest Level: Grade 2 - Grade 5
  • Reading Level: Grade 3

“A not-to-be-missed, inspirational book about courage, heart, and the necessity of caring for others.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Stars of the Night recounts the powerful true story of the 669 children who traveled as part of the Czech Kindertransport from Prague to Britain on the eve of World War II, as Hitler’s campaign of hatred toward Jews and political dissidents took hold. Told from the collective perspective of the children, the narrative follows their journey as they leave everything they’ve ever known in hopes of staying safe. After the war ends, they return to Prague only to find that nearly all of their parents have been killed by the Nazis. And more than fifty years pass before they learn the identity of the British man who was instrumental in saving their lives—Nicholas Winton.

Award-winning author Caren Stelson teams up with acclaimed illustrator Selina Alko to sensitively tell this tale of survival and defiance in the face of tyranny.

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Interest Level Grade 2 - Grade 5
Reading Level Grade 3
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Narrative Nonfiction, Diverse Books: Immigration & Refugees, Diversity, SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2023
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 40
Publication Date 2023-02-07
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF053240, JNF025130, JNF019090
Dewey 940.53/18083
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Guided Reading Level V
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Original artwork, Primary source quotations/images, Reviewed, Starred Reviews, and Timeline

Author: Caren Stelson

Caren Stelson is an award-winning author of nonfiction books that focus on war and peace themes. She believes young readers want to know the truth about their world and how others find resilience and courage in difficult times. Her work includes Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner A Bowl Full of Peace and Sachiko: A Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivor's Story, which was longlisted for a National Book Award and received a Sibert Honor Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award. Caren and her husband Kim live in Minneapolis.

Illustrator: Selina Alko

Selina Alko spends her days melding words and mixed-media art to convey stories of hope and inspiration—as well as an alternative viewpoint. Her books include The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage, Can I Touch Your Hair?, Daddy Christmas & Hanukkah Mama, and I is for Immigrants, which was selected a 2022 Best Children's Book of the Year by Bank Street Books. Selina lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Stars of the Night: An Interview with Author Caren Stelson

On the eve of World War II, the Czech Kindertransport rescued 669 children from Nazi persecution. The new nonfiction picture book Stars of the Night: The Courageous Children of the Czech Kindertransport by Caren Stelson and illustrated by Selina Alko sensitively tells the powerful true… View →

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Check out February new releases from Lerner Publishing Group! Picture Books Stars of the Night: The Courageous Children of the Czech Kindertransport by Caren Stelson and Selina Alko “When we were seven or eight or nine or ten, our home was the old city of Prague.” So begins this powerful View →

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Can you believe that the year is almost over? If you’re already thinking about all the wonderful books you’ll read next year, you’re not alone! In today’s blog post we’re giving you a sneak peek at our spring titles. Read all of these fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels on the Lerner View →


  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Book List, Winner, 2024
  • ALA Notable Children's Book, Winner, 2024
  • National Jewish Book Award Finalist, Runner-up, 2024
  • Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature Best Books of the Year, Winner, 2024
  • Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year 2024, Winner, 2024
  • Orbis Pictus Award Recommended Book, Commended, 2024
  • Notable Books for a Global Society List, Winner, 2024
  • 2024-2025 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List, Long-listed, 2023
  • School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Winner, 2023
  • CYBILS Award Finalist, Short-listed, 2023
  • New York Public Library Best Books for Kids List, Winner, 2023


Association of Jewish Libraries

“Both heartbreaking and hopeful.”—Association of Jewish Libraries

Jewish Book Council

“Balancing tragedy and hope, this story preserves the memory of Jewish children who found new lives despite and because of their irrevocable losses.”—Jewish Book Council

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)

“[A] good addition to teach elementary-aged children about a lesser known event during the second World War and how one person can make a difference in many lives. Reviewer Rating: 5” –Children’s Literature


“Stelson masterfully provides background context for today’s young readers, while keeping the focus of the story on the children’s experience. Rating: OUTSTANDING”— BayViews


“In a collective voice . . . Stelson describes rising tides of anti-Semitism, tearful partings, scary journeys by train and boat, meetings with British foster families, and then a return to Prague at war’s end to search out the scanty remnants of families and, long after, to learn who had organized the escape.”—Booklist

School Library Journal

“A necessary and inspirational book about a little-known light amid a dark period of history, this book should find a home in all libraries.”—starred, School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

“Stelson employs a communal we to narrate this story of 669 primarily Jewish children of the Czech Kindertransport . . . Impressionistic acrylic, collage, and pencil art by Alko is embellished throughout with sparkling stars and round yellow orbs.”—Publishers Weekly

The Horn Book Magazine

“Quiet but immediate. . . . The in-the-moment text combines with emotional acrylic, colored-pencil, and collage illustrations in Alko’s signature style to create a dreamlike atmosphere.”—starred, The Horn Book Magazine

Kirkus Reviews

“A not-to-be-missed, inspirational book about courage, heart, and the necessity of caring for others.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

Nick Winton

“This book tells my father’s story through the eyes of the children he helped to save from the Holocaust. It is a reminder of the huge difference any one of us can make in the lives of others. Our world depends on it. It is down to people like him, people like us, to make the change we want to see.”—Nick Winton, son of Sir Nicholas Winton