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30 October 2023 A WAY TO THE STARS by David Almond and Gill Smith, Candlewick, November 2023, 32p., ISBN: 978-1-5362-3125-0


“And you can fly

High as a kite if you want to

Faster than light if you want to

Speeding through the universe

Thinking is the best way to travel


It's all a dream

Light passing by on the screen

And there's you and I on the beam

Speeding through the universe

Thinking is the best way to travel”

–  The Moody Blues (1968)


A WAY TO THE STARS is an engaging and beautiful picture book that educators, caregivers, parents, and grandparents can employ in order to prompt and support dramatic play amongst preschoolers and older students. 


In A WAY TO THE STARS, Joe’s father voices support for his son’s desire to “find a way to the stars.”  They endeavor to have Joe climb a tree and then to climb a homemade cardboard box tower. Joe then blasts off in a homemade cardboard rocket (launched by Dad employing an impromptu lever and fulcrum seesaw-like “launcher”). When this fails,


“They worked harder.

They worked faster.

A trampoline.

A pair of wings.

A pogo stick.

A cannon!

Up! Up! Up! No! No! No! No!

‘What a mess!’

‘What a laugh!’

‘Give it up?’

‘In your dreams.”


The father and son eventually settle on constructing a backyard shed. On the inner walls, they paint moons, stars, and swirling galaxies. 


The duo then falls asleep and, in their dreams, they wander, dance, and spin their way into the heavens. 


There is great educational and psychological value in encouraging young children to create and act out their own dramatic solo or cooperative play scenarios. Adults should take an interest in facilitating this dramatic play. It makes sense that they provide physical spaces in which the kids can act out their imagined stories and scenarios. I can readily envisage early childcare educators setting up semi-enclosed spaces, and mounting paper or cardboard inner “walls” upon which children can employ paints, markers, or cutout images and glue to create a story setting. 


Designing such mini-environments, thereby creating space for any number of imaginary explorations, can inspire kids to also devise puppet shows and skits. Each of these activities provides therapeutic opportunities for young people to react and respond to scary and/or perplexing situations they’ve encountered at home, in the community, or at school.


David Almond’s loving tale, accompanied by Gill Smith’s lustrous mixed media illustrations, will also make for an engaging naptime or bedtime read.


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com





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