When Dad Showed Me the Universe
Written by Ulf Stark and illustrated by Eva Ericsson
Published by Gecko Press
With Father’s Day only a few weeks away (Sunday 21st June), this modern Swedish classic will delight any sons, fathers and grandfathers. This fun but moving story features a Dad wanting to show his son something special; the Universe.
After a long day working at the dentist, this Dad believes it’s time to show his Son the universe. They wrap up warm before heading outside. The Son decides to ask lots of questions about the universe as he’s not too sure what it is, after pointing at the supermarket, “No” replies his Dad but they go in for provisions. They walk for a long time, past the shops and through the park, past the hardware store and past the fish shop, which are all closing up for the night.
When they reach the outside of town, where there are no streetlights, they stop on a small hill. The son asks if this is it, looking around at the hill and grass, spotting a snail from the universe creeping over a stone… he’s a little confused, until his Dad notices that he isn’t looking up at the sky and tells him to look up. The sky is filled with thousands of stars and the Dad begins to point them out but the Son thinks they look like specks of dust that you would find in the living room in the sunshine. The Dad continues talking about how amazing the universe is and picks his son up so he can be closer, explaining how some stars don’t even exist but we can still see their light. But its all interrupted, when they get a whiff of something stinky, the Son knows whats happened, his Dad has stepped in dog poo! His Son states “It’s Big Dog!” after being told about the star constellation Big Dog. It’s time to go home. The Dad thinks his son may be a little too young yet but the Son states he will remember and that the universe was beautiful and funny!
The story is told from the Son’s point of view, which brings humour to the story, especially when he is getting very confused about understanding what the universe is; first believing it is the shops, then grass and the plants around him. I liked the little facts that popped up when the Son is asking the Father questions; like the temperature of the Universe or about the different stars. Though, if we were to read more into this, the Son is quite right in that isn’t everything around us all part of the universe?
The soft classic illustrations, by Swedish illustrator Eva Ericsson, work brilliantly with the strong narrative by Ulf Stark making it a very sweet book to enjoy with your little one. This book is recommended for five years of age and over and I believe it would make a great book to start up a discussion about stars and the universe.
When Dad Showed Me the Universe will be enjoyed by little ones and adults alike but its always good to remember that even though its nice to look up and appreciate the stars above, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on down here, as sometimes the most important things are right under our noses!