How to catch a star

posted in: Oliver Jeffers | 14
Photo: Thomas Shahan
Photo: Thomas Shahan

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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This is what is looks like from below!

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How to Catch a Star: *** (3 stars). If you live in London (UK) you could go and see a play based on How to Catch a Star, which has had very good reviews – it’s on till the end of February.

We’ve had a lot of star music on recently, but for today I’ve chosen these three songs:

  • Catch a falling star by Perry Como
  • What is a shooting star by They Might Be Giants, from the album Here Comes Science
  • Underneath The Stars by Kate Rusby
  • 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:

  • A star from wool (yarn) by DIY Alert – if you made this in white wool with a bit of silver or gold I think it would look gorgeous.
  • Star printing from The Masked Mommy – you could do this with glue instead of paint and then sprinkle glitter all over!
  • Stained glass stars from The Artful Parent.
  • stArtToday’s post is part of stART, hosted by A Mommy’s Adventures.

    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!

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    14 Responses

    1. Hello,
      Another fantastic post! We can’t wait to read The Heart and the Bottle as Oliver is one of our favourite picture book illustrators.
      Those stars look great; I hope that your children got the chance to see Lost and Found over Christmas?

    2. It sounds like a great book. I’ve never heard of Jeffers, but I will definitely be looking out for this book – it is a topic of great interest to my son.

      • Oh Catherine, I think you’re in for a treat if you’ve yet to discover Jeffers :-) And I think his books are particularly appealing to boys (I try to avoid this sort of statement normally. but all the little boys I know love his books), so I’m fairly confident your son would love them too!

    3. Wonderful post. I have just one thing to share. When I do any star activities with my students, I teach them the Betsy Ross trick of cutting a star with one snip. It’s amazing and fun! Here are the directions.
      http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagstar.html

    4. Oh yes, we love this book. It’s so beautifully illustrated and a lovely story. My little guy particularly loves Lost and Found, it’s read nearly every day, but I think all his books are fantastic. The illustrations really are refreshingly different and I’ve found that children adore them, perhaps because they are rather childlike.

    5. Those stars are just beautiful — I’m absolutely going to try and do a star craft at the library now. Such an inventive idea!

    6. Star light, star bright,
      First star I see tonight.
      I wish I may, I wish I might,
      Find this book and read it to my kiddos soon!

      (OK, the poem didn’t REALLY rhyme, but my point is this sounds like a wonderful book and I love the art you did with it!)

    7. I love the mobile, especially the way you had them put beads on the hanger so it’s not as plain. Great project!

    8. Your stars twinkle brightly. I bet the kids had fun making them.

    9. I love the mobile! That is fantastic!

    10. Their finished stars look amazing, what a perfect project to go along with that book. I will have to check it out when we are talking about starts. Thank you for joining in on stART this week, I loved your project and I am so glad you shared it with us :0)

    11. I love Oliver Jeffers… He is one of those authors who stirs up huge anticipation whenever I catch wind of an upcoming project…

    12. The crafts look great! Sounds like a fun book, too.

    13. Another great combination. And it’s raining today. I think some stars sound just about right.

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