Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 06 Feb 2024

A Way to the Stars by David Almond, illustrated by Gill Smith

If you’re lucky enough to live outside the big city and the sky isn’t its usual cloudy canopy, you’ll see a magnificent blanket of stars providing one of the most easily available wonders of the natural world. It’s hardly surprising that there will be plenty of children who find this cosmic display irresistibly fascinating.

In David Almond’s new picture book, young Joe has been captured by the wonders of the night sky and has a longing to ‘find a way to the stars’. When he tells his friends of his ambition, they laugh at his aspirations but his dad has heard what he is saying and steps in:

“’The stars?’ said his Dad. ‘OK, I’ll help.’”

The two of them then set about trying to find a way. Maybe a ladder? Building a tower? A cardboard rocket launched by a seesaw plank? And there’s plenty more ingenious possibilities that never quite take off. Although every effort fails to take flight, the two of them are having such a great time.

But Joe still has to get to the stars and his Dad has an idea. Maybe there’s a way to journey there without actually leaving the ground? I’m not going to tell you exactly what that is because you’ll enjoy finding out for yourselves but I can tell you that it involves a shed, some paint and lots of imagination……..

Almond’s warm and imaginative story is beautifully enhanced by illustrations from Gill Smith. Liverpool-based artist, Smith has an M.A. in Children’s Book Illustration from Cambridge school of Art and her work on children’s books has an immediately recognisable style. The striking cover for ‘A Way to the Stars’ brilliantly captures the mood of the book – just look at the way the blues grade from a light greenish to deep cobalt. I especially love her use of colour and this book has been designed to showcase the way the art and the words work together to create something a bit special.

Published by Walker Books, who have decided on a very generous size that is pleasing to hold in the hand and would work well if the story is being read aloud to a group of children. You will be able to get a copy from your local independent bookshop – who will be happy to order it for you if they don’t have it on the shelves.


Terry Potter

February 2024