‘The Fox and the Star’ by Coralie Bickford Smith
Interview with Leila Bargawi, Child & Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist
Why do you like this book?
The Fox and the Star is a beautifully illustrated book for children aged 6 upwards. The story is about a shy fox who has only one companion, Star in the sky. One day he can’t see Star and a journey of searching begins which ends with finding more than fox could have anticipated, a universe full of stars, but also the realisation that they are for all to enjoy and don’t belong to him alone.
What does it help children think about?
It shows what pleasures can be found if we can be brave and persevere in the face of adversity. The book doesn’t rush to its conclusion and the reader has to appreciate taking one’s time and tolerating the loneliness Fox has to endure. For me, it’s a lesson in patience, in staying with hard feelings when they seem unbearable, only then can we truly learn something.
The story is also about the painfulness of loss, and how it pulls us to withdraw. In the story, this is shown by Fox going underground and withdrawing from the forest. It is only when the beetles come to devour him that Fox leaps back to life and saves himself and can bravely explore the forest to start looking for his friend Star.
What other advice might you give to parents when talking about loss with their child?
The book can be the beginning of exploring what your child thinks and feels about the issues raised by the book, such as loss and loneliness. Sometimes children are told to be brave, but ‘Being brave’ can be a complicated message. As well as being about encouraging children to push themselves out of their comfort zone and try something new, it can be said to get children to bury their feelings or move on quickly after something bad has happened. Often it is important to try and stay with some of these difficult feelings and explore them gradually.