Jennifer Neri's Blog

Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur. Henry Miller

The boy who caught a star

22 Comments

“Once there was a boy and the boy loved stars very much. Every night the boy watched the stars from his window and wished he had one of his very own.”

Thus begins, How to Catch a Star, by Oliver Jeffers, an early picture book. We’ve had this book for a few years, yet my kids still pull it out.

It ends with a rustic illustration of a boy walking along the shore holding hands with a star fish. “The boy had caught a star. A star of his very own.”

Every time I read this book, I am inspired to create. It sends me into writer’s heaven. Reading to my children a few days back, I finally discovered why children’s books have such a profound effect on me (although I do not yet write children’s books). It is that stories are the gateway to the imagination. The rapture on their faces while reading reminds me of how far the mind can go. Of all the possibilities a story can hold.

If the story draws on them, they will role play and produce art inspired from it for days afterwards. I realize this is something I touch on often on this blog – keeping ourselves open and responsive as writers. Not blocking ourselves to the known, but rather seeing the potentials. And for me, watching children’s films and reading children’s books is one of the best ways to do so. Not only do I experience it through my children, but I return to my inner child.

Last week also marked the week that my 6 year old began reading chapter books in french. As I was driving, (so much seems to happen in the car) I was listening to CBC (again), and there was an interview with a prof of languages from U of Calgary. He had a collection of translated Harry Potter books on display. He was interested in how Harry Potter has affected children’s literacy throughout the world. In Thailand, he said, they documented it. Prior Harry Potter, child’s literacy was 6&. Post was 22%. Here’s a newspaper article on him and his colecttion if you’re interested.  

Imagine that! How much JK Rowling feel with such numbers.  To inspire so many children to want to read. I told my son that soon he too would be reading Harry Potter. He looked at me with big eyes, uncertain how to respond.

My current wip began in a workshop held by Ilona Martonfi. I had been playing with the idea in my head for a few months, and when we were told to unleash our inner child for one particular excercise, my novel began its formation on paper. My writing deals with adult issues, yet when writing I am writing from the child in me. Where nothing is set, and I can go anywhere.

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22 thoughts on “The boy who caught a star

  1. Your post makes me think of “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” … it’s the symmetry of the story, the beginning echoed at the end that captivates me, and something I strive for in my fiction.

    The best writing times are when that inner child takes over and the words flow unhindered.

  2. I think one of the best compliments for a writer is knowing that your words have inspired others to read. I’ve had one lady tell me she hadn’t read a book in ten years (Which to me seems so sad) until she read my book. A few others told me that it was the first book they’d read from start to finish. Any book that gets people reading is a wonderful accomplishment. JK Rowling is an inspiration to the rest of us. She’s certainly done her job as a writer.

    I can’t even fathom a life without reading. Can you?

    • It must have been fantastic, Laura, to have someone tell you yours was the first book they read from start to finish! Oh what a feeling that must have been!

      No, I cannot imagine a life without reading. My husband did not grow up around books, and he still has not turned into a reader. He was awed by our kids interest in books, and was amazed how they cried when their bed time story was taken from them. I am more than grateful that books have always been a part of my life. I caught Joe Hill on the radio on Monday (yes – CBC and in the car Lol), saying that when he and his siblings came home from school his father was locked away typing, his mother locked away typing, and for him it was normal to hole yourself up for hours each day and just use your imagination. It sounds thrilling to me…gave me a new perspective on what my kids see when I am working. (I must be the last person to know that Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son!)

      • Nope, I would be the last to know Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son!

        Thank you for that reply, I was just struggling yesterday with the balance between my desire to hole up for hours with my imagination and the need for a social life!

      • LOl, Cathryn!
        It is tough isn’t it? I know, sometimes that feeling of am I really a recluse? but, i still shower and venture outdoors and speak to people…sometimes :)

  3. I love children’s books and Ya books too. They are very inspiring.

    And I adored your line, “Where nothing is set, and I can go anywhere.” Hurrah for going . . . wherever!

  4. “My writing deals with adult issues, yet when writing I am writing from the child in me. Where nothing is set, and I can go anywhere.”

    I absolutely love that! It’s a perfect explanation of why we write fiction.

  5. Sometimes I read from the child in me. I could read every one of Mr. Putter and Tabby books and feel as well-read as any literary enthusiast.

  6. I was reading your post with my nearly two year old on my lap. When she saw the picture she got really excited and started singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’. Soooo Cute. I told my hubby that he had to read her stories before bed and he blew me off until one night he finally did. He came out and was so surprised at how much she liked them. (Men!) He’s also the one that gets annoyed when I sneak new children’s books into the cart or ask for them for birthdays. Funny thing is he loves books!

    Thanks for stopping by the blog this morning!

  7. When I read my daughter stories, I find myself looking for inciting incident, climax and resolution. And I am surprised that I find those things more times than not. I hope that our love of reading and writing make an impression on our daughter. They seem to have already as she is very much interested in reading, writing and words. It’s the coolest thing.
    Thanks for such a great post!

  8. Hi Jennifer,

    I can relate to a lot of this. I really enjoy children’s books, even now. When I was a child, I read constantly and would get excited about visiting the local library.

  9. I’m going to order this book right away. I’ve never seen it before.

  10. Okay, now I know I paid attention when I made that comment. I don’t know why it’s putting me in the middle of people!

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