The Squirrel That Found the North Star

The Squirrel That Found the North Star is the follow-up to The Squirrel That Watched the Stars, both written by fantastic astronomer Tom Kerss and illustrated by me. 

In this second installment of the Starry Stories series, our friend the squirrel meets two new constellation guides — Ursa Major and Minor! Carl and Ursula, the two glowing, starry bears, join the squirrel in his oak tree in order to teach him all about their constellations, and how they can be used to find the North Star. It’s a great book for teaching little ones about these two very visible and familiar constellations, and its night-time setting and gentle verse makes it a wonderful bedtime story, just like the first book. 

The opening spread from the book, showing Greenwich Park as in the first book, but now it’s Autumn!
 Our old friend Cygnus joins the squirrel at the beginning of the book, to introduce her friends from the sky.
When Cygnus says her friends are “cold-loving beasts with tails much admired” and that “They’ve sharp teeth and claws, and their faces are hairy,” the squirrel imagines a giant abominable squirrel, with big teeth and a very colorful tail!
Here the squirrel is looking a little nervous, expecting monsters to appear! I had fun adding in the detail of glowing “eyes” in the darkness, which are actually glow worms, as seen on the leaf in the foreground.
When the bears appear, they join the squirrel in the branches of his oak tree. Ursula treats the tree like a jungle gym, flipping around the branches with her long tail, while Carl finds the branches a bit too small for him!
When Ursula and Carl tell the squirrel that Greenwich Park was once full of creatures like them, he imagines a time long ago, when London was full of bears and wolves. I had a great time drawing all of these happy bears doing bear things like munching berries, hunting for honey and cuddling their cubs on the ancient hills of Greenwich Park.
The bears show how the stars of Ursa Major (also known as the Big Dipper or The Plough) point to the North Star, which is the star at the very end of Ursa Minor’s tail! This illustration was fun to create because it shows the accurate relationship between the stars, but in a storybook setting.
The second-to-last spread in the book shows the squirrel imagining the Northern Lights, and how he could find them if he follows the North Star north. I loved getting to illustrate the colors and waves of the aurora, and this picture is also a bit of a hint at book 3 in the Starry Stories series!