Author: James Foley
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Publisher: Fremantle Press
Published: November 2021
James Foley’s Stellarphant is a charming picture book about an elephant who wants to become an astronaut. Accompanied by bright and playful illustrations, and themes of courage and perseverance, this is the perfect book to inspire young minds.
From the very first illustration, before the story has officially begun, readers are presented with Space Command’s Hall of Heroes: a wall lined with framed photos of astronauts that all look very similar. So when Stella walks into the building, bright-eyed and application in hand, the person at the desk is in disbelief. How can an elephant be an astronaut? There’s never been one before. They turn her away, saying that unless she can find a spacesuit that fits her, they can’t approve her application. So Stella leaves and returns with her own suit, only to be turned away again and again on the basis that Space Command does not have the equipment to send an elephant to space. But Stella is not one to give up and is determined to become an astronaut.
I was genuinely excited to read this book. The idea of sending an elephant to space is such a fun idea and I know that as a kid I would’ve latched onto this story. Stella is such an endearing character, with her bright eyes and unwavering passion. She’s ambitious and hopeful and works hard to meet all the requirements put before her. It’s clear to everyone that if anyone has the qualifications to become an astronaut, it’s her. But as the story progresses, readers see that Space Command’s unpreparedness of sending an elephant to space isn’t the issue, but the narrow-mindedness and refusal to change of an already-established organisation.
Stellarphant’s approach to discrimination is one that many adults and parents will be able to recognise and even relate to. But for growing children who are developing their own dreams and aspirations, this story is sure to bring comfort and encouragement. Stella knows how much work she’s put in even if it’s not recognised. And despite not seeing someone like herself represented in the field of her dreams, she is not deterred. It’s this confidence and self-worth that makes this story so heart-warming, and will instil valuable lessons to young readers.
If you haven’t picked up James Foley’s Stellarphant, it’s one that I definitely recommend. It’s full of stunning illustrations and interesting characters, and Stella is such a wonder to behold. This charming picture book is sure to inspire readers both young and old!