Happy 10th birthday to Oliver Jeffers’ first picture book How to Catch a Star!
The Story: The boy looks at the stars every night and wishes that he has his own star. One morning he gets up early and waits all day until a star appears in the sky. He tries various ways of catching it but it is too high up for him to reach. Then he notices a star floating in the water but he can’t catch it. He goes to the beach and catches it when it is washed up on the shore.
How to Catch a Star’s protagonist, the boy, has a dream and the story captures his persistence in making his dream a reality. He is inventive in his attempts to catch a star, waiting from sunrise to sunset for a star to appear shows patience and determination. Unfortunately climbing trees, jumping and asking seagulls for help don’t help him. Just as he reaches his lowest point he notices the floating star. Another long wait ensues but his patience is eventually rewarded.
Oliver Jeffers realistically captures the boy’s thought process and problem solving ideas in his easy to read text. The font looks almost handwritten and is great for beginner readers. The simplicity of the colourful illustrations is appealing and imaginative. My daughter loves the ‘trees that look like lollipops’ and I love the way that fantasy elements eg. the boy’s spaceship are interwoven with familiar daytime routines and environments to give the message that, with determination, dreams can come true.
We read the story with my daughter’s friend (also five) and it was interesting to hear their different interpretations of the ending. My daughter was sure that the boy had caught a real star but her friend thought the star was a starfish. Each had their own view, one fantastical, one realistic, but were happy to acknowledge each other’s opinions.
Although constellations aren’t mentioned in the story it’s great to stimulate discussion about stars and the patterns they make in the sky. It’s the perfect bedtime story.
Age Range: 2 to 5
Author / Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers