Carter, James. (illus. Mar Hernandez). “Once Upon a Star: A poetic journey through space.” New York: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2018.

With all the activity around the anniversary of the moon landing, there is no shortage of books and programs around space for summer reading. This title takes a poetic approach that will appeal to the stargazer in the PreK to Grade 1 set, while still landing squarely in the nonfiction category. Poetry, science, and art – three in one!
Carter’s rhyming text is deceptively simple while touching on some big ideas. The concept of nothing existing as “Once upon a star/there were no stars to shine/no sun to rise/no sun to set/no day, no night/nor any time” is at once straight-forward and though provoking. The big bang is portrayed as a beautiful double page spread with “A mighty BOOM/a huge KERRANG.” Hopefully, the uplifting closing sentiment that the reader is made of stardust, and therefore, a star, will be taken to heart by all the kids who read this book!
Hernandez’s illustrations in Once Upon a Star are interesting and clear using a beautiful color palette. The more readers examine the art, the more they will like it; kids and their adults won’t tire of these pages.
This is a must-have for any elementary picture book collection and will be an equally effective read-aloud or lap-read.

Dewey: 523.1 Interest Level: PreK – Grade 2

Reviews and Awards: Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal.

Upper elementary students might enjoy: “Older than the Stars” by Karen C. Fox
Middle school students might like: “The Space Adventurer’s Guide: Your Passport to the Coolest Things to See and Do in the Universe” by Peter McMahon
Fiction Pairing: “The Stuff of Stars” by Marion Dane Bauer.