For All the Stars Across the Sky is a treasure of a story hidden by a disappointing cover. I am a fan of contemporary illustration and the style of this book, initially, put me off a bit. It feels awful writing that now but I do judge books by their covers… at least at first. So, I probably wouldn’t have picked this book up if I’d walked past in a bookshop. And that would undoubtedly have been a mistake!
When you read this book, you feel as though you’re being let into a private world; you’re part of the intimacy and love between a mother and her child. The story takes us on a bedtime adventure with a mother bear and her cub, Luna. Inevitably Luna doesn’t seem too keen on going straight to sleep and so, instead, she makes up adventures for her and her mother to go on. They visit different landscapes before, at last, an exhausted Luna is laid down to sleep.
And… the illustrations are perfect. The use of coloured pencil makes the edges soften, giving the pictures a dreamlike quality. The illustrator, Chiaki Okada, has used light and dark, shadows, stars and shafts of light to enclose us, to bring us closer together and make the reader feel they too are cared for, just as Luna is.
For all the Stars Across the Sky is a fine example of a perfect match between illustrator and author. Just as Okada’s illustrations ‘hug’ us and pull us in, so does Karl Newson’s text. The little poem the mother says to her cub, the repeated lines and phrases all comfort the reader and the story, succinct and straightforward, is perfect for sharing at bedtime.
I read this story to my seven-year-old daughter, who loved it and got so much from it. She immediately saw us in the narrative and enjoyed recognising and pointing out all the similarities between the characters in the story and she and I. It is a heart-warming, cosy story full of love. It would fit very well into any infant classroom – it’s certainly a book to read for pleasure as children across the country would revel in doing exactly as my daughter did. I would, however, make sure before you read it, you know the backgrounds of the children you are reading it to. A story so centred around love and maternal relationships could be difficult for some children to hear.
This is a beautifully constructed picturebook, another triumph for Walker Books, and a real treat for bedtime. Snuggle up and enjoy!
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