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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

When Dad Showed Me The Universe, written by Ulf Stark and illustrated by Eva Eriksson. Gecko Press, Thomas Allen & Son. 2015. $26.99 ages 5 and up

"Then we came to a ditch full of water. Dad carried me across so I wouldn't get wet. "We're almost there," he said. There were no streetlights at all. Dad led the way through the grass. We stopped on a small hill. "Is this it?" He nodded. I looked around. I was amazed. I had the feeling that I'd been here before, that this was the place where people walked their dogs."

In this warm and humorous father and son story, a decision has been made. Dad has decided that it is time to take his son out and show him the universe. He's old enough now for that incomparable experience. They head toward the edge of town where the glare from the surrounding lights is minimized and the two can see the starlit sky in all of its vast glory.

As they go, the boy notices everything that is part of their world. Holding hands and taking time to enjoy its sights and sounds, the two wander into the darkness as it falls around them. Down cobbled streets, over a watery ditch, up a small hill, and they are there. Their provisions are a piece of gum, which is chewed solemnly as they partake of their environs. The little one looks all around and finds much to admire.

Dad makes the suggestion that he look up, as his father has been doing.

" I looked up. A thousand stars were burning in the sky. .
Dad pointed them out. He knew all their names."

The son is not so impressed as the father is - that is, until his father steps in it! And it stinks. What, you ask. Why, it's the dog poop that's left after people walk their dogs in the exact place that shows the two the universe so admired by Dad. No longer quite as earnest as he has been, Dad leads the way home where his young son lets him mother know that the walk was worth it, and the universe is beautiful and 'funny'.

Eva Eriksson captures the warmth of the telling in softly textured illustrations that are full of color and detail. She allows the boy the freedom to notice everything in his universe, and the wonder of it all.  This is a terrific book, sure to be loved and read repeatedly.

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