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Once Upon a Star

James Carter, Mar Hernàndez, illustrator
Caterpillar Books
Age 5-7

This book takes us on a poetic journey through space and time, celebrating the wonder and beauty of our solar system, looking in particular at our sun and its creation.

Through striking illustrations and a beautiful text we travel deep into the wonder of the night sky, discovering a galaxy of stars and our sun in particular. Then we travel back through time to explore the beginning of our universe, our solar system and the diversity of life on earth. Our dependency on the sun is emphasised and the magic that we are all made of star dust and so we are all – STARS! The back of the book includes an informative summary in acrostic form ‘sciencey’ stuff about the sun – its origin and destiny.  A book which combines information with poetry creating a sense of wonder beautifully.


Share the story

Read aloud

This is a book to savour and share several times to enjoy the poetry of the words, the drama of the illustrations and the sense of wonder it evokes about our world, our sun and the solar system.

When you read this book aloud for the first time it might be fun to whisper the first page, perhaps cuddled together under a blanket to create a sense of the dark sky, lifting the blanket off for the last line ‘look up you’ll see the galaxy.’

Point to some of the words in bold as you read, giving these extra emphasis. Revisit favourite pages to enjoy again.

Join in
When you share the book again children might enjoy making the sound effects for the big bang and boom, reading alternate lines or sections of the text with you, enjoying the music of the words or creating actions for certain parts, eg  for ‘the great explosion burst.’

Talk about the book

  • Talk about anything new or unfamiliar with your child such as ‘solar system’ and ‘galaxy’.

  • Talk together about what children know about the sun and why it is so important for us

  • Talk together, or find out, which planet is which/ closest furthest away from the sun.

  • Talk about the different varieties of life on earth.

  • Share and talk about favourite lines and illustrations.


Things to make and do

Be a star watcher
Look at the night sky to see the stars. If possible try to see the sun setting or rising, taking photos if you can.

Act out the story
Practise a performance of the book with actions and sound effects. This is more fun if you or other children join in. Make a recording if you can to listen back to.

Make a picture
Children could use paint or collage to make their own picture of the Big Bang, a starlit night sky or other aspect of the book which inspires them. They could choose a favourite line from the book.

Find out more

Find out more about poet James Carter his books and work here
See also Once Upon a Raindrop (the story of water)

Find out more about the sun – see here

Or watch a video