Cover image for Starbright and the Dream Eater
Starbright and the Dream Eater
Cowley, Joy.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, 2000.

Physical Description:
199 pages ; 22 cm
As the powerful alien life force called the Dream Eater begins to spread destruction over the Earth, twelve-year-old Starbright discovers that she is the one destined to stop it.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.1 6.0 41116.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



There is a new deadly illness on Earth.

Starbright Connor is beginning to wonder why everyone in Claircomb has gone so wuzzling mad over some mysterious sickness that is probably just a media scare.

Early symptoms suggest disturbed sleep patterns.

Starbright thinks spindle sickness is something that happens only to other people, until the day her best friend, Mark, falls asleep and won't wake up.

In five years there will be no place to run to.

Now Starbright must strike out on her own. But how is atwelve-year-old supposed to save the world?

But why, suddenly, the big wahoo on spindle sickness? Everyone had talked for years about it, a virus disease in remote South America, the in Africa, Australia. People got tired and went to sleep and didn't wake up. How could it be here, less than thirty miles away? Nah. Wasn't possible. An outbreak would be too unreal for words...

Author Notes

Cassia Joy Cowley is a New Zealand language and reading specialist. She was born on August 7, 1936, in Levin, New Zealand.

She has written more than 500 books for beginning readers, many of which have been honored internationally. The Cheese Trap won the AIM Children's Book Award for Best Picture Book (1996) and Red-Eyed Tree Frog won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book (1999). She has won New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards for Best Junior Fiction for Ticket to the Sky Dance (1998) and Starbright and the Dream Eater (1999). The Mouse Bride (1998) is being produced as an animated program for New Zealand television.

In 2002, Cowley was awarded the Roberta Long Medal, presented by the University of Alabama at Birmingham for culturally diverse children's literature. In 2004, she was awarded the A. W. Reed Award for Contribution to New Zealand Literature, and in 2010, she won the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in the Fiction category. She is also a 2016 Astrid Lindgren award nominee. In 2018 she will be awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit and also shortlisted for The Hans Christian Andersen Award. She was also awarded the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for her her title Nicketty-Nacketty, Noo-Noo-Noo in 2018. She was awarded the 2018 Order of New Zealand, which recognises outstanding service to the state and people of the country.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. This imaginative, almost too incredible story, is well enough conceived and carried out to make readers suspend disbelief. On December 6, 1986, a mentally disabled teenager gives birth and names her daughter Starbright. The nurse who delivers the baby knows that a secret message from space has predicted that Starbright will save the world from the Dream Eater, an advanced life-form that takes its nourishment from humans while they sleep. As the Dream Eater searches for Starbright, spindle sickness spreads to the area where she lives, and everyone thinks it's a killer virus. Guided by the nurse, Starbright gradually accepts her role and searches for the Dream Eater in her dreams, tracking it to its polar lair. The human characterizations and relationships are convincing, and Starbright is particularly engaging--lively, bright, fearless, curious--in short, a character with whom readers can easily identify. A suspenseful tale for less sophisticated sf fans. --Sally Estes

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-A bizarre science-fiction tale set in the present. As the story begins, a midwife assists in delivering a baby born to Esther, a brain-damaged teen. Twelve years later, several residents in the area are stricken with the mysterious "spindle sickness," in which victims are tormented by horrible nightmares, fall into a deep sleep, and never wake. Starbright Connor, the child born in the opening pages, cannot grasp the concept of nightmares. She can control her dreams and guide them according to her wishes. As panic over the infectious disease mounts, the midwife returns to inform Starbright of research that suggests that it is not caused by a virus as suspected but rather by a "space parasite" that feeds off living energy. Evidence seems to indicate that Starbright is the one individual with the ability to defeat the alien force. At first, the girl is incredulous, but is gradually convinced of her powers. In an exciting final confrontation, she triumphs over the Dream Eater just in time to save her loved ones. While the story is certainly unique, readers may find it difficult to suspend disbelief. Further, the conclusion, in which the epidemic is conveniently wiped from everyone's memory, is a bit too neat. However, the more realistic elements of the story are well developed. Starbright's relationship with Esther is particularly moving, and the life lessons she learns from her help to inform and empower her. An acceptable title for readers preferring fantasy that is firmly grounded in human emotion.-Ronni Krasnow, formerly at DC Public Library System, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.