James Carter would be the first to admit that he is a children’s book writer, not a scientist.
“I wrote Once Upon a Star very much as a starry-eyed poet, not an expert!” the U.K. author and songwriter said of his latest book, Once Upon a Star: A Poetic Journey Through Space (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2018), a lively, rhapsodic exploration of the cosmos from the “mighty boom, a huge kerang” of the Big Bang to the coalescence of elements that created our “skies so wide and oceans blue.”
Space, Carter told Space.com, is one of his prime fascinations. “I was born in 1959, so my childhood was filled with sci-fi, such as Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds, and Doctor Who on TV, not to mention the moon landing in 1969, which had quite an impact on 9-year-old me,” he said.
Since he had already written books about his other favorite topics—wolves and electric guitars—the “big expanse up there” was the obvious frontier to conquer next, he said.
But Carter wanted to direct his next effort at a younger audience than he did with the aforementioned volumes, making use of simple rhyming verse instead of “heavy scientific detail” to captivate and entertain. As the author of more than 20 poetry books for children, writing what amounted to an extended poem came naturally, he said.