For Christmas (does it already seem so long ago to you too?) my Mum gave J How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers. Quite how we didn’t already have this book I don’t know (we love Lost and Found, The Way Back Home and The Incredible Book Eating Boy also by Jeffers), but have it we didn’t. Now, however it is a regular feature in J’s bedtime routine – Thanks Mum!
How to Catch a Star is a sparse but charming story of a little boy who loves stars very much indeed, imagining one would make the best of friends. With childlike ingenuity and lateral thinking that rings true, he tries all sorts of methods to capture a star for himself. For example, he decides that morning would be the best time to try to catch a star “because then the star would be tired from being up in the sky all night“. Although finding and catching a star is of course not easy, the story does end happily – with a clever but at the same time totally believable twist, the boy does find a star, a star he is so happy to call his own.
This book was first published nearly 6 years ago and since then it has received many reviews full of praise (for example here). And yes, we too love the book. It’s one that both M and J will both happily listen to at the same time – the fact that it can hold the attention and spark the imagination of both a 1 and 5 year old is something I particularly appreciate. It’s an optimistic book, where perseverance (with a dash of serendipity) pays off, and of course it helps that it is about stars – objects of much admiration, awe and sparkly delight in the minds of my girls.
The illustrations are simple but full of character. For some they might be a little too design conscious or perhaps a little bleak in their emptiness, but Jeffers’ now recognisable style is for me lots of fun and refreshing, his pared down images matching perfectly the lucidity of his prose.
To go with this book we decided to make a star mobile. Here’s what we did.
1. I cut out 6 stars (of varying sizes, shaped like those in Jeffers’ book) and M covered them in craft gems and glitter. J just enjoyed dusting the entire kitchen in glitter. Mmm – anyone for sparkly sandwiches?
2. I got 2 wire coathangers (I asked at the nearest dry cleaners and she gave me a bunch for free), and cut through the long wire which forms the bottom of the triangle. The girls then had a great time threading beads onto the wire. Once the wire was full I simply used a little bit of tape to join the wire together again, covering the join with a bead.
3. I put the 2 coathangers at right angles to each other, tying them together with a bit of ribbon around their necks ie just below the hooks. I also tied the coathangers together where the long wires crossed. M threaded ribbon on to all the stars (we use a hole puncher to create the holes) and then I tied the stars on to the coathanger frame.
This is what is looks like from below!
We’ve had a lot of star music on recently, but for today I’ve chosen these three songs:
We’ve got another book and activity on the theme of stars coming very soon to Playing by the book, but if you want some more ideas in the meantime, why not try out these:
One last thing – Oliver Jeffers has a new book out in March – The Heart and the Bottle – do let me know if you get a chance to read it!