Review of When Dad Showed Me the Universe, by Ulf Stark and Eva Eriksson

when_dad_showed_me_the_universe_largeWhen Dad Showed Me the Universe

by Ulf Stark
illustrated by Eva Eriksson

Gecko Press, 2015. First published in Sweden in 1998. 28 pages.
Starred Review

This book is completely charming.

One day Dad said he thought I was old enough for him to show me the universe.

The pictures show a little boy about preschool age. The dentist Dad puts on a black beret, a leather jacket, and tall boots. We go with the pair on their walk to see the universe.

“What actually is the universe?” I asked.

“The entire universe,” said Dad, “includes everything, my friend.”

The way there was straight ahead and then to the left.

I like the moment when they go to buy provisions for their expedition, because it reminds me of Winnie-the-Pooh’s “Expotition to the North Pole.”

They walk through town and see the night begin to fall and the shops closing. They go out to a field with no street lights, where people walk their dogs during the day.

I love the way, when they get there and Dad asks if he can see, the little boy notices all sorts of things on the ground:

I could see, even though it was almost dark.
I saw a snail from the universe creeping over a stone.
I saw a blade of grass swaying in the winds of the universe.
There was a flower called a thistle.
And there was Dad, staring at the sky.
“Yes, Dad,” I whispered, “I see it.”
All of this was the universe!
I thought it was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen.

Then Dad tells him he’s supposed to look up, and we see all the stars stretched out. Dad points out all the constellations, including Big Dog, and there’s a moment of child-sized humor when Dad steps in something left by Big Dog.

When we got home, we had sandwiches and hot chocolate.
“So, how was the universe?” asked my mother.
“It was beautiful,” I said. “And funny.”

And so is this wonderful book, a quiet story about a boy, with his Dad, seeing something he will never forget.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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