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We See the Stars

Simon is an eleven-year-old boy who lives in country Victoria in the 1970s. He is a severe asthmatic, who rarely speaks and lives in an internal world of lists and colours. His escapism takes the form of superman, his imaginary friend, and stray ghosts, who chat with him.

His family consist of Mum, who stays in her room all the time. Dad, who works as many shifts as he can, and Grandma who runs the house in between going to visit Grandpa in hospital. Davey is his younger brother who lives very much in the real world. Life for Simon is very much focused on his inner being and the author writes his images graphically. There are birds in Simon’s chest and bees which behave according to his mood, or the threat he faces. There are also storm clouds which can threaten to overwhelm him.

Life at school is fraught with danger for Simon. The kids tease him and seek him out in his solitary place in the yard. Then in year six, a new teacher comes to the school that is interested and kind. A girl, who sits behind him and has a deformity, also befriends him. Together they form a friendship and face the bullies.

We See The Stars begins with an excerpt from the end of the book. It then starts with Simon going to swim in the dam with his Grandma and brother. It is here we first come upon Simon’s imaginary world, as standing in the muddy waters of the dam he thinks, if the muddy water is swallowed,  “You’d take all the dirt into your guts and then into your blood so that if you got cut open it would come out thick and brown and full of worms.”

We See The Stars is a poignant, insightful tale within a magical world of escape. Simon’s thoughts penetrate the reader’s heart.


Author Kate van Hooft
Publisher Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760632526
Distributor Allen & Unwin
Released June 2020