Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kismet: How to Catch a Star

Oliver Jeffers is an Irish painter and writer whose books have won several awards. How to Catch a Star (Harper Collins UK, May 2010) is one that gets frequently pulled off the bookshelf at bedtime here. I find there is equal pull in the charming writing and in the sweet illustrations. Sometimes I'll find that a book's pictures are really great but the story just isn't there or the opposite. How to Catch a Star offers both. The writing reflects the innocence of youth while the paintings have an ethereal quality to them.

A boy wishes to catch a star and make it his friend. He spends an entire day trying to figure out how to make his wish a reality. When the stars finally appear in the evening sky he climbs to the top of the highest tree in attempt to reach out and grab a star. When that doesn't work he tries to lasso a star with a lifesaver off his dad's boat. No matter what the boy tries to do to catch a star it seems it is always just out of reach.

One of the things I really like about this book is that it is completely in synch with how a child would think, imagine and struggle to solve a problem. As an adult I found myself marveling at this story's ending. I won't say any more about the ending as I don't want to spoil it. I will say, though, I wondered whether or not I should explain it to my 3 year old or simply follow her lead and answer her questions if she had any. In the end, I left it. She'll figure it out when she's ready.

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