Reviews /

A Bed of Stars

Authored by Jessica Love
Illustrated by Jessica Love
Published by Walker Books Ltd

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A Bed of Stars is a touching family story of a boy and his father taking a trip together to see the stars.

Told in the first person a young boy relates how he and his dad go on a trip to the Californian desert in their old truck to, in Dad’s words, ‘shake hands with the universe’. They leave Mum and the baby behind.

On the way Dad tells his son about the flowers and the birds they will see, including pointing out that the burnt trees mean the Ceanothus seeds will soon germinate as they do so only after forest fires. They set up camp, build and light a fire and watch the sun set. Then they make a bed in the back of the open truck, snuggle up together, and watch as the universe in all its glory is revealed. In the morning they pack up, ensuring no traces of their stay are left, and go back home, where Mum, the baby and a final surprise are waiting.

Although the narrative has a relatively simple arc there are many interesting themes that are touched on. The relationship between father and son is sketched tenderly, reinforced by the straightforward text, as well as the effective, desert coloured, illustrations. The awe and wonder of looking at the billions of stars the characters feel reminds me of the times as a boy that I stared up at them many years ago and wondered about my place in the universe. The information about life in the desert can also be the starting point for thinking about how the flora and fauna thrive in what appears to be an inhospitable environment.

A picture book that is well worth reading aloud to primary aged children, leaving space for them to respond to the themes, the narrative and the illustrations.