One day Dad said he thought I was old
enough for him to show me the universe.
“Where is it?” I asked
“Not too far,” he said.
This is a story told by a little boy whose father takes him to see the universe one evening after calling it a day at his dental clinic. Once ensuring they are warm enough to go out, they walk around the neighbourhood with the boy quizzing his father about the universe all through the way. They finally reach on a small hill outside the town where people usually walked their dogs. When the father tells the son “This is it” and asks him to see around, the boy looks around and is taken by the beauty of the universe around him in the form of a snail creeping on a stone, a blade of grass swaying in the wind and a flower named thistle.
His father asks him to look up at the sky instead of looking down. The boy discovers thousands of stars burning in the sky which, to him, seemed like specks of dust in the living room in the sunlight. His dad tells him the names of the stars – Little Bear, Scorpion, The Big Dog etc, and how calm it makes one feel because it is so big that everything else seems small. Just then the father goes quiet. He tries to figure out the mystery about the stinky smell coming from the ground beneath. With the boy solving the mystery, the father’s enthusiasm veers of and they return home. At home, the mother asks the boy how was the universe to which he replies beautiful and funny.
What appealed to me?
- The father-son bonding. The boy trusts his father completely and the father is earnest in wanting his son to have an experience matching his own.
- The father’s profound thoughts about the universe.
- The fact that there can be several interpretations based upon this story like – The universe can be as close to us as it can be far. It can entail the smallest of objects as well as the vast night sky. It can be comprised of a fewer things as well as the numerous stars and other heavenly bodies. Also, sometimes, while we are invested in looking up at the bigger picture, it is also important to have a look down because we never know what we step upon.
What appealed to D?
- He loved the father figure in the story and the chit-chat between the father-son duo.
- Getting to know a few facts about the universe.
- The funny stinky ending. While the adult in me gaped at the abrupt ending to the magical experience, D enjoyed it. The ending makes the book interesting and enjoyable for the kids.
- The lovely illustrations. You can have a quick glance at the book here.
What D questioned?
- The meaning of the word ‘Solemnly’ from the story.
- Why did they have to go out of the town to look at the stars for stars can be seen from everywhere?
An adult and a child approach things in a manner different from each other. Instead of calling the boy’s own contemplation of the universe on the ground as silly, the parent in me feels it would have been more appropriate to appreciate his observation before turning his gaze upwards to the sky. Because, later when the boy is not able to see the stars in the same way as his father and wants to say no, he instead agrees since he does not want to be called silly again.
Barring this one concern, this book scores high on creativity on account of the blending of philosophy and humour, suited for both adults and children alike, and illustrations by the Astrid Lindgren prize winner Eva Eriksson.
Author: Ulf Stark
Illustrator: Eva Eriksson
Release Year :
Swedish Edition: First published in 1998
English Edition: First Published in 2015
Publisher: Bonnier Carlsen (Sweden) / Gecko Press (USA)
Age group: 4 and up
Available on: Amazon India
This book is a part of my own collection and was bought from a local bookstore.
Linking this post with Literacy Musings Mondays #LMM