The Girl Who Stole the Stars
by Patt Ligman
Celeste had lost count of how many nights she had wished for a puppy. It didn’t matter if the puppy was a collie, a poodle, a golden retriever, or even a dachshund. All her friends had puppies or kittens, and she wanted one too.
Every night Celeste found her favorite star in the sky and chanted, “Star light, Star bright, I want a puppy tonight.”
Celeste’s moms told her to be patient, that sometimes wishes take a long time to come true—and she might have to wait for a puppy until she was an adult and living away from home. Celeste kept wishing.
Her friends wished on stars and their wishes came true, even if it wasn’t always overnight. Margaret played with a new kitten. Marissa kicked her new soccer ball. Jacob read a new book.
On yet another morning without a puppy, Celeste wondered if her wish would ever come true. That night she thought, “I bet I’d get a puppy if I had all the stars!”
She closed her eyes and chanted, “Star light, Star bright, I want all the stars tonight.”
She opened her eyes. Not a single star was missing.
Then a crash of thunder and a flash of light split the night. A scream of wind picked Celeste up and carried her toward the window. She tried to hang onto a bedpost, but the wind tore her away. At the last second, she grabbed the colorful cloth bag her grandmama had given her to carry the magical things from their walks.
The wind whistled as Celeste was carried high into the clear night sky. In the blink of an eye, she was floating among the stars. They glowed like icy candles. She reached out and touched one. Her finger tingled.
Careful of the sharp points, Celeste picked the star out of the sky and dropped it into her bag. She grabbed another star, then another and another, tucking them all into the bag. A shooting star zoomed by, and she caught that one too. One star was plumper than the others and when she touched it, the star exploded and tiny bits of light flew in every direction.
Celeste worked until the last twinkle of starlight was in her bag. The sky was black as pitch.
At sunrise, Celeste leaned over and peeked under the bed. Her bag glowed with stars.
Celeste kept her secret all day. No one knew she had stolen the stars.
That night, after the bedroom door shut behind her moms, Celeste reached under her bed. She dragged out the glowing bag and opened it. Three stars flew up, smacked into the ceiling and burst, showering her with raindrops of light.
“What was that noise, Celeste?” Mama asked.
“I, um, dropped something,” Celeste answered.
“Put it away and go to sleep!” Mommy said.
Celeste slowly reopened the bag. One star floated out. Careful of the sharp points, Celeste held it. Looking in the mirror above her dresser, she wove the star into her long, black hair. It sparkled like a diamond in the sky. She wove in dozens of stars until her hair flowed behind her head like a comet’s tail. She danced around the room with a star in each hand and her hair waving like a flag in the wind.
As she untangled the stars from her hair and returned them to the bag, Celeste whispered, “Stars are better than a puppy.”
The next day, her classmates complained the sky was too dark without stars. Jacob couldn’t wish for the sequel to his book. Marissa needed some shin guards for soccer. Margaret wanted a toy for her kitten. No one knew that Celeste was the star thief.
That night, Celeste bounced stars off her bed and caught them. She waved them through the air, trailing sparks like sparklers on the Fourth of July. She crawled under the quilt on her bed and read a book by starlight. She wanted to keep the stars forever.
In the morning, Margaret cried, “I wanted to wish for a puppy for you, but there were no stars!” Celeste felt a tiny bit guilty.
That night, the stars drifted across Celeste’s ceiling. They were dimmer. They moved sluggishly. As she watched, a tiny star burst into flame and crashed to the floor. Celeste ran to pick it up. The star crumbled in her hand, its ashes mixing with her tears.
With a cry, Celeste captured a sagging star, threw open the window, and let it go. The star hung there, fading. She softly blew on it. The star trembled, then jumped into the sky, getting brighter as it raced homeward.
Celeste rushed around the room. She captured stars and set them free. She turned her magic bag upside down to make sure none of the stars were trapped. She didn’t stop until the last star was racing home.
Celeste smiled at the starry sky, found her favorite star and chanted, “Star light, Star bright, I want the stars to stay in the sky toni—forever.”
Just before she fell asleep, she heard a puppy bark.