Moon Pops by Heena Baek

Cover image for Moon Pops.

Moon Pops by Heena Baek, translated by Jieun Kiaer (9781771474290)

On a very, very hot night, everyone had their fans rattling and their air conditioning whirring. It was too hot to sleep even with a refrigerator door open. That’s when something started dripping. It was the moon melting. Granny ran out of her apartment with a bucket to catch the moon drops. She decided to make frozen moon pops out of the liquid moon. Then the power went out. It was dark everywhere, everywhere but Granny’s apartment that glowed. Granny handed out the glowing moon pops to everyone. They were icy and sweet and made the heat go away so that they could sleep. That’s when the two moon rabbits showed up and Granny had to figure out how to rebuild their moon home using the last drops of the moon.

This is the first book by Henna Baek that has been translated into English. She is an internationally acclaimed Korean children’s book author and illustrator and has won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. This picture book puts a modern spin on a classic Korean folktale of rabbits that live on the moon. The entire book is marvelously crafted with a languid slowness of the heat at first and then the drama of the melting moon. The intelligence of Granny and her willingness to share and help make for an unusual folktale of community both nearby and far.

The illustrations are done in dioramas that are photographed. Baek lights them with glowing touches of the moon, lemony yellow lights that illuminate the darkness and provide comfort and connections. The paper figures are various animals who all live together in a crowded apartment building with their own interesting apartments to look into as well.

Intriguing, haunting and beautiful. Here’s hoping we see more translations of Baek’s work. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Owlkids.

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayon, et al.

Cover image for Blackout.

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon (9780063088092)

In New York City in the heat of summer, there is a sudden blackout citywide. Caught in the darkness are several groups of Black teens who all find themselves heading to the same party. There are couples who have already broken up and find themselves the only safe way to get back home. There are pairs who are not yet together but find themselves trapped on the stopped subway system. There are people in one relationship and longing for a new one that is right there. Told in loosely-linked short stories, these stories all tell the joyous tale of young Black love in the dark.

Written by six award-winning Black female authors, these stories are a summer delight to read. The authors have their own unique voices that all come together into a single book that really sings. Cleverly, one story bridges across the entire book, following one couple’s long walk across the city together. Each story shows romance in a different light and different stage, showing how even waning romance can be the beginning of something new and amazing.

In all of the stories, the characters are interesting and well written. They have personalities that stand out against the crowd of characters, taking the spotlight for a time and then allowing it to move on. The writing throughout is skilled, creating a book that is romantic, funny and a tribute to New York City herself.

A testament to the talent of the writers, this book is a great summer read. Appropriate for ages 13-17.

Reviewed from library copy.