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  • Published: 2 July 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143772705
  • Imprint: Picture Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 32
  • RRP: $19.99

Abigail and the Birth of the Sun

A bright and beautiful exploration of a supernova and the birth of our solar system for young children, all wrapped up in an award-winning bedtime story

Join Abigail on a magical night-time adventure to discover how the sun, moon and planets came into being.

WINNER - Best Picture Book, New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2020

Abigail is a curious little girl. She likes to discover the answers to really BIG questions. One night, she thinks of a question that's SO BIG she can't sleep until she knows the answer.

"Daddy," she asks as he tucks her into bed, "where did the sun and all the planets come from?"

To find out the answer, Daddy invites Abigail on a magical journey through time and space. Together they explore the birth of all living things. By the next morning, Abigail has thought of another big question . . .

A gorgeously illustrated and beautifully told bedtime story that doubles as an introduction to astrophysics, Abigail and the Birth of the Sun will be enjoyed equally by young children and adults.

  • Published: 2 July 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143772705
  • Imprint: Picture Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 32
  • RRP: $19.99

About the authors

Matthew Cunningham

Matthew Cunningham wrote his first masterpiece in kindergarten. Unfortunately, as he had yet to grasp the concept of writing in straight lines from left to right, ‘The Clock’ (as it was so cleverly titled) read more like a bowl of alphabet soup than a book. Since then, he’s turned his hand to a number of different styles of writing. A passionate and dedicated historian with a Doctor of Philosophy, he has published oral histories, peer-reviewed articles, journalistic and encyclopedic pieces, and Waitangi Tribunal research commissions.
Matthew's desire to communicate, explore and test complex ideas in a way that engages the reader, no matter what their age, has naturally brought him to the best and most challenging genre of all: children's fiction. Abigail and the Birth of the Sun (illustrated by Sarah Wilkins), his first published picture book, won the Best Picture Book Award at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2020.

Born in Australia, he now lives in Porirua, New Zealand with his wife and daughter Abigail, who, like her namesake, also likes to ask big questions.

Sarah Wilkins

Sarah Wilkins was born in Lower Hutt. The middle child of seven, she dreamt of becoming a solo explorer. Dreaming and drawing, which she loved, go together, so she became an illustrator instead. Her award-winning images can be found on buildings, buses, bags and many other curious places around the world, but they feel most at home on the pages of beautiful books.

Sarah works from a light-filled studio perched high on a hill overlooking the Wellington Harbour. She is curious about visually communicating science for young and old, and illustrated Abigail and the Restless Raindrop while completing her Master in Science in Society.

Find out more about her work at www.sarahwilkins.net

Praise for Abigail and the Birth of the Sun

[A] story...that will not only explain the science of how the world began, but will deliver it with the poignancy and beauty of a fairy tale.

Susannah Whaley, NZ Booklovers

Abigail and the Birth of the Sun is, at its heart, about showing children just how fundamentally connected everything down here is to everything up there. We are, as Abigail’s daddy explains to her, all made of stardust.

Ronnie Swainston, Kidspot

I love that Abigail’s dad is not too busy or distracted to answer her question in depth – in an ideal world we’d all be this type of caring adult more often. It’s a little message tucked away in the text for the adults – 'be like Abigail’s dad'. With a world of information quite literally available at our fingertips, our standard response shouldn’t be 'I don’t know', but 'Let’s find out!' And with the promise of further books explaining big concepts to come, Matthew Cunningham books may become just as easy to reach for as a Google search. The illustrations by Sarah Wilkins are lovely – clear, colourful and intricate. These are the sorts of illustrations that are crying out for an adult with an available lap, so a child can look closely and find all the little details. I highly recommend Abigail and the Birth of the Sun for children aged 5 and up.

Rachel Moore, The Sapling

In this delightful book, young Abigail has a big question for her father: where did the sun and the planets come from? His reply: "From stardust, Abigail. Just like you." He goes on to explain in clear, child-friendly terms how a large star exploded and its stardust came to form stars, meteors, comets and planets — and everything on Earth, including us. Sarah Wilkins' spectacular illustrations bring this to life in the most glorious way, conveying the wonder and beauty of the Earth and of space beyond. Highly recommended.

Otago Daily Times

Inquisitive minds – and grateful adults – will love Abigail and the Birth of the Sun by Matthew Cunningham and Sarah Wilkins. It’s astrophysics explained, with glorious illustrations to boot.

Stacey Anyan, North and South

This book ticks all the boxes for a great picture book. Abigail is a very real and relatable character: children will be able to see themselves in her, and adults will recognise her. Her curiosity is what drives the story, and is formed in a magical question of possibility. Her father tenderly cradles this curiosity, creating a beautiful narrative answer to her big question that is part magic, part science. The language is evocative and poetic at times, and yet still packed with facts. The illustrations support this gentle yet fantastical approach, with bold colours and big skyscapes combined with little touches like the ever-present family cat, and the astronaut teddy bear.

Judges, New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

...it’s a simple, sweet story about an old star and a girl who can’t sleep and it has lovely relatable lines like: “Then, all of a sudden, she felt a rumbling from deep within her chest … at first it was a little rumble, like a kitten purring. But soon her chest was roaring like a thunderstorm.” Every word scans. The narrative takes a pleasing, easy orbit and the illustrations are magic-garden gorgeous.

The Spinoff Review of Books

Awards & recognition

New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Winner  •  2020  •  Best Picture Book Award

NZ Booklovers Award

Finalist  •  2020  •  NZ Booklover Best Children's Book Award

New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Shortlisted  •  2020  •  Best Picture Book

Discover more

Abigail and the Birth of the Sun - Colouring Sheet

WIN! A copy of Abigail and the Birth of the Sun PLUS an Adopt a Star pack, courtesy of our friends at Stardome.

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