For All The Stars Across The Sky by Karl Newson, illustrated by Chiaki Okada and published by Walker Books is a beautiful picture book about the love between parent and child.
At bedtime, Luna the bear and her mummy close their eyes and make wishes about all kinds of different adventures they could go on together. Swimming deep in the sea like fish, crawling along in the mud as small as ladybirds or walking through the forest as giants, taller than the trees; there’s nowhere this pairs imagination can’t take them.
When all the adventures are over it’s time for Luna to get tucked up into bed with a head full of dreams and a warm hug from her mummy. “For all the stars across the sky, Big and little and bright, Here’s a kiss from me to you, As we say goodnight.”
Lyrical and gentle, this story is calming whilst also bursting with love and imagination. Chiaki Okada’s soft illustrations show the tender moments between mummy and Luna as they get ready for bed and set the perfect tone for a bedtime story with an excellent use of light to create a magical feeling.
We are really pleased to welcome author Karl Newson to our blog to answer our questions about his work as a writer and the inspiration behind his latest book.
Interview with Karl Newson
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a writer?
I had always enjoyed writing poetry, even as a child, and that evolved into writing songs when I was about 18 and got a guitar for my birthday, and that then evolved into writing stories in my mid-twenties, when my two big boys were still small! I submitted a couple of stories to a handful of publishers back then (before emails were allowed, it was all brown envelopes) but they were rejected, and I got it in my head that I needed to include the illustrations I could imagine too… so I taught myself how to illustrate. I studied children’s books for years and years, eventually getting some private illustration commissions, and then felt it was worth giving it another go with the publishers. So I submitted again (emails this time!) and struck gold with my now agent Jodie Hodges. And then when we got round to submitting stories it was my words that got the interest, over my illustrations, so I went with the words and haven’t looked back since. I still enjoy illustrating and am planning to give it another shot at some point, but I find the words so much easier! It was just about 10 years from my first story submission to my first published book Here Comes the Sun, illustrated by Migy Blanco, published by Nosy Crow in March 2017.
Your latest book, For All the Stars Across the Sky, is a beautiful bedtime story, was there anything in particular that inspired you to write it?
Thank you. It was inspired in two parts; one due to my fascination with the stars, which began when I was a child myself… I was sat at my grandparents’ dining table drawing and my Popie (my grandad) sat down beside me and taught me how to draw a star. It started me wondering and gazing and WOWing at them every night, and I still do it now. The second part, the content of the story, comes from the lyrics of a song I wrote for my boys when they were small. It includes the line ‘For all the stars across the sky’ and is all about making wild and adventurous wishes, like floating up to the moon in a hot air balloon… That ‘For all the stars’ refrain stuck around inside my head and made its way out in story form all those years later.
We understand that you are a keen stargazer with a dream of one day going to the moon (and we have a sneaking suspicion that you named the little bear in this book Luna because of your love of the moon), what are your favourite children’s books about the stars or the moon?
I am indeed! Wouldn’t it be amazing? And yes, I did partly name Luna for the moon. She is also partly named after a favourite song of mine by the Smashing Pumpkins, called Luna, which contains the lyrics ‘What moon songs do you sing your babies?’ (I seem to have taken inspiration from everywhere!). One of my favourite children’s books isn’t directly about the stars or the moon but it does occur at nighttime, and that’s The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson, illustrated by Joanne Cole. It’s a beautiful book about observation and exploration. Another of my favourites is The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers. It’s a book where the imagination runs free – anything goes! I love the idea of it and the ending leaves it open to interpretation which I think is the best way to not end a story.
Did you enjoy reading and writing when you were a child and if so, who were your favourite authors?
Sadly, no. Not much at all. Other than The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, I don’t remember reading much at all. What a fool I was! A couple of Roald Dahl’s classics, some Charlie Brown short stories, some James Herriot are all I vaguely remember. I did a bit of writing (poetry, mostly), but I was mostly mostly a drawer. I liked to draw big scenes, like a beach full of people sunbathing, or a field full of soldiers. I do read ALL the time now though, and I LOVE it. Books are my escape from the day and my little places of wonder.
What is the best, or best things about being a writer?
There are a few ‘Best’ things for me.
- Seeing my words brought to life by an illustrator is the most wonderful feeling. I get to see my character for the first time out of my imagination and it’s when it first feels real.
- Finding a book I’ve written in a book shop. Seeing it there amongst other books by authors and illustrators that are my heroes and friends, is tremendous.
- Hearing or seeing that children (and adults!) have enjoyed reading a story I wrote, or are looking forward to my next one, is magic. I love that an idea that began in my head can be shared by so many people in the end. Books are magic.
Can you tell us a little bit about what else you have coming up soon?
I’d love to! At the moment I have two more picture books coming out in May this year. First, on the 2nd May is The Same But Different Too, illustrated by Kate Hindley, published by Nosy Crow. It’s about all the things we share and the things we don’t, by people and animals from around the world. The second, on 16th May, is I Am a Tiger, illustrated by Ross Collins, published by Macmillan. That one is about a mouse who says she is a tiger and sets about convincing the other animals of it too… it’s a cheeky ‘what’s on the inside’ story. I’m very much looking forward to the release of both of these so I can talk about them more! There may be one more title coming up in the Autumn (I’m waiting on confirmation of that at the moment), and then a couple more next year, so far. I’m a very lucky author!
Thank you Karl for answering our questions, it sounds like you have some really exciting projects coming up and we can’t wait to see your next books!
Buy For All The Stars Across The Sky from Wordery with free delivery.
Many thanks to Walker Books for sending a copy of this book for review.
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