Books Picture Books Reading Ruminations Reading Themes Universal Republic of Childhood

[Saturday Reads] The Universe of Wonder and Imagination in Picturebooks


Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.


We have just recently launched our new reading theme: Universal Republic of Childhood. And so, I share these books that show the universality of wonder and imagination.

IMG_0468Star Girl

Written and Illustrated by: Karin Littlewood
Published by: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2013. ISBN: 1847801463 (ISBN13: 9781847801463)
Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

This is a story of a young girl so enamoured with her own little star that she plucked it out from the night skies to shine only for her. She was disappointed to discover how the star seems to have lost its shimmer and shine once she held it close to her, away from its home in the heavens.


While the story may seem far-fetched, I find the story to be more of a metaphor for loving something and letting it go; an idea which I feel most children would resonate with as they tend to love things to bits and pieces until it’s ragged and torn.


Like most good stories, I believe that anyone can find something within this story that they can connect with – I am reminded of trite aphorisms such as: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Or the oft-quoted and hackneyed, If you love someone, set them free – let them roam the wilds of the earth and be swallowed by monsters waiting in caves so that they never ever come back to you .. oops, I think I may have misquoted that one. Anyway, do find the book, if only for the gorgeous art of Karin Littlewood.


The WonderIMG_0461

Written and Illustrated by: Faye Hanson
Published byTemplar Publishing, 2014. ISBN 13: 9781783700745
Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me. 

A young boy, with his head in the clouds, seems to be largely misunderstood by the people whom he encounters throughout the day. From the park-keeper to the bus driver and the “lollipop lady” – everyone seems to be urging the young boy to pay closer attention to what is going on in the world, rather than just looking inwards at his own private universe:


What is interesting for me is how evidently this young man sees something more than what other people see. I have always described creativity to my students as the capacity to look at the familiar with strange eyes – and Hanson’s art has captured that perfectly.


I am especially disturbed by how the boy’s form teacher, science instructor all seem to be quite impatient with his ‘daydreaming’ – indicating that it has no place in the classroom. The young boy was only able to find refuge during art class when he was given a blank piece of paper by his teacher:


The resulting image is glorious as the boy puts pen on paper to give voice to the untamed world within him. I did find the last few pages quite superfluous with the explicit articulation of the boy having a head filled with wonder – I thought the images are quite sufficient to drive home that point. Regardless, the art is truly something to behold.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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