Friday, September 5, 2014

Learning from Picture Books: Hopper and Wilson Fetch a Star

Don't you love the stuffed toys on this newspaper airplane? This cover caught my eye and, after a few late summer evenings of sitting on the deck admiring the stars, I had to read it!

Hopper and Wilson Fetch a Star

written and illustrated by Maria van Lieshout

published by Philomel Books, 2014

From Penguin:

Have you ever wanted your very own star?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your own star for a nightlight? It is this thought that begins Hopper and Wilson’s second adventure. They fill their airplane with lemonade and soar into the night sky. So many stars to choose from! One is too pointy. One is too heavy. Another is too bright! Taking a break on the moon, the two friends look directly above and spot it—the perfect star! As Hopper lays down for a nap, Wilson ventures off on his own, to the dark side of the moon. Yet now he is lost! How can he find his way back to Hopper?

The perfect star, of course. Wilson spots it in the sky and follows it back to his friend. In another deceptively simple story, Maria van Lieshout shows how sometimes the best part of nature is that it’s only found in nature—and that everything has its proper place…be it stars or even best friends, who always belong together.    

My Thoughts as a Writer:

I liked the unique concept of fetching a star for a nightlight. It was fun to think about the two friends studying each star to find just the right one. The illustrations really captured my attention, especially the ones of the night sky, which evoked the feeling of staring up at the real night sky in a very dark place. The newspaper that folded up into an airplane and unfolded into a blanket was a cute and creative detail.

My Thoughts as a Teacher:

This book offers lots of possibilities for discussion, e.g. Is it okay to take things from nature? What would you do if you got lost? It would be nice to compare and contrast this story with others about stars and space, e.g. Eric Carle’s Papa Please Get the Moon for Me or Oliver Jeffers’ How to Catch a Star

Non-fiction books about stars and space would complement this nicely, for kids who want to know more. For some companion books, Delightful Children’s Books lists 11 Children’s Books About Stars and Space.

A fun exploration to go along with this would be paper airplane making using different kinds of paper. Looking at these illustrations sparked this question for me: Can you make really make paper airplanes from newspaper? A great question for students in primary grades to investigate.

If you're looking for more great picture books to read to your class or to investigate as a writer, author Susanna Leonard Hill has a wonderful list of Perfect Picture Books. The books on the list are categorized by theme and topic, and each one has a link to a blog that featured it, so you can get a few ideas about the contents and ideas for using it. 


  1. I do love the stuffed animals. That elephant looks like he's had plenty of loving and somebody's mom had to stitch his seams.

  2. This sounds adorable. I love when picture books go beyond a story to evoke questions about nature and friendship and everything's proper place.


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