Today, the Star Darlings take the spotlight on bookstore shelves in a magical new series from Disney. Chapter books, toys, and apps will tell the story of the Star Darlings, magical girls who are working hard to achieve their dreams of becoming wish granters.
“The message I hope kids take away from Star Darlings is that no matter where you were born, what you look like, or what your tastes are, you have the power within you to create the life of your dreams,” says Shana Muldoon Zappa, writer and co-creator of the series.
“Starling Academy is a place where girls experience all of the same things that we do, and at the core, the intention is to always empower with these two messages–we are all powerful and magical within ourselves, and healthy friendships and acceptance of one another’s differences only makes us stronger,” Zappa says.
She was inspired to create Star Darlings by her own young daughter, Halo. “I have always been about empowering women and emphasizing positive messaging in everything I do,” says Zappa. “Having Halo just amplified that and turned my attention to younger girls. I began to think about what the world looks like for her and all young people today. Their music, books, shows, and other major influencers…I became passionate about creating something new, fantastical and fun–something that girls can relate to and reflects what they are going through today.”
In addition to writing the series, Zappa has worked as a fashion and jewelry designer, which influenced the world of Star Darlings. “Coming from fashion where being a size zero is championed, I felt I had a moment to influence girls in a more positive direction,” she says. “I wanted to inspire them to celebrate themselves and create their own sense of what fashion means to them. I decided all of the Star Darlings would have very different styles and silhouettes….Their outfits are an expression of who they are.”
Balancing life as a mom, designer, and writer, finding the time to write the series wasn’t always easy for Zappa. She learned to rely on others when needed, and credits her husband Ahmet for his work and support. She encourages other busy parents to remember to care for themselves as well. “You just have to remember to create balance and joy for yourself. Period,” she says. “Create the space. Star Darlings means so much to me. The process wasn’t always perfect, and I fell miserably off balance at times. But in the end…I learned a lot and I’m a better woman, mother, and wife for it.”
The fantastical world Shana Muldoon Zappa and Ahmet Zappa have created is a sparkly, imaginative blend of science fiction and fantasy that is likely to hook tweens. Shana Zappa writes with those young readers in mind. “The key is being to show them that they have what it takes within them to create the life they dream of and more… for themselves and the world,” she says.
Sage and the Journey to Wishworld and Libby and the Class Election are now available from Disney Press. If your kids are like my daughter, just one look at the beautiful (and yes, sparkly) concept art will be all they need to be intrigued by the series. You can also check out a sample of the chapter books online now to enter the halls of Starling Academy.