Review: Moonday by Adam Rex


Moonday by Adam Rex

This luminous picture book answers the question about what would happen if the moon lowered itself into your backyard.  The boy in the story finds the moon so slow in his yard that he can not just touch it, but climb around on it and into its craters.  The rest of the world though, stayed dark as night.  The children had to go to school in the darkness and everyone was tired.  Back home, they tried to hide the moon under tablecloths and blankets.  But then the tide entered their yard and the dogs gathered to howl at the moon too.  So the family took the moon for a drive and it followed their car until they went to the top of a big hill and it got caught in the tops of the trees.  They asked it to stay there, and there it hung, once more high in the air.

This is a treat of a picture book.  It doesn’t just ask the question about what would happen if the moon dropped into your yard, but it also finds a solution that is satisfying and beautiful.  I loved that the story is bookended by the drive in the car where the moon followed them home and then another drive where they returned it to the sky.  The entire book has a sense of wonder about it, but also a great foundation of practicality and humor. 

Rex’s art glows on the page.  The moon is bright and round, filling every page it appears on with a white, wintry glow.  The other pages show the darkness which makes the moon all that much brighter when it appears.  The moon covered with tablecloths and blankets is not dimmer at all, just lightly patterned. 

Magical and beautiful, this book is dreamlike and special.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Max and the Tag-Along Moon

max and the tag along moon

Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper

When it’s time for Max to head home from his Granpa’s house, Max is very sad.  But his grandfather reassures him by saying “That ol’ moon will always shine for you…on and on!”  All the way home in the car, Max watches the moon as it travels along with them.  When they get home though, the moon has disappeared and Max once again feels sad and misses his grandfather.  As Max is alone in his bed that night, he looks out at the dark night with no moon.  As he watches, the moon returns from behind the clouds and Max once again feels connected to his Granpa. 

Cooper takes a very simple story of grandfather and grandson and makes it memorable with his amazing illustrations.  The story resonates with the connection of the two main characters and their love for one another.  The symbol of the moon and its light connecting them makes the book luminous and almost magical.  I appreciate a children’s picture book that is not just about an African-American child and family, but one that shows a loving male figure.

A large part of that magic are the illustrations that glow with the white-gold light of the moon.  Cooper plays with light and dark throughout the book.  Even on the pages without the moon shining, there are sources of light and shadow that are expressive and lovely. 

A strong African-American family is celebrated in this picture book that would add another level to any moon-centered storytime.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Philomel Books.

Review: Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop


Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop

Red Knit Cap Girl finds that when she is in the forest, she has time to think about all sorts of things.  In particular, she thinks about the moon and how she can get close enough to speak with her.  She tries reaching the moon with a branch, finding her in the reflection in the water, but nothing works.  Hedgehog recommends that she find Owl and ask about how to reach the moon.  So she does, and Owl tells her that there is no way to reach the moon, but she will bend down to listen.  So Red Knit Cap Girl heads out to find a way to get the moon to listen.  She decides to have a party for the moon and all of her friends help.  Bear and Squirrel hang lanterns in the trees that she has folded.   But moon does not appear.  What can they do to get moon to listen?

Stoop’s book is eye-catching and gorgeous.  Painted on plywood, the grain of the wood becomes a large part of the images.  The grain becomes clouds in the sky, patterns on the shore, and darkness in the deep forest.  It also works tremendously well with the subject of a girl in a forest.  The colors are deep and beautiful, so rich that they are almost wet in places.  The reds glow, the blues haunt, and the deep browns are real shadows.  Against these rich colors, the simple lines of the drawings pop.  The animals and Red Knit Cap Girl ground the book with their distinctive charm.

The writing is equally lovely with moments that catch the breath.  From the opening line, I knew I was going to love this book: “In the forest, there is time to wonder about everything.”  Isn’t that just the way you feel when you venture into the woods, like time has stopped and there are moments of eternity just to think? 

A shining picture book that has a richness and beauty that does not negate its inherent child appeal.  Add this to your next story time on moons or forests.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Clementine: A Book of Big Dreams


Clementine by Sebastian Loth

Released May 1, 2011.

Clementine is a snail who loves anything and everything round.  She loves tires and balls, but most of all she loves the roundness of the moon.  So she decides that she is going to head to the moon.  Her best friend Paul, a worm, helps her come up with a plan on how she will get to the moon.  They try a trampoline first, with poor results.  The slingshot doesn’t do any better.  Then they decide to try a rocket!  And Clementine discovers that she has been connected all along to something amazingly round and magnificent.

The writing in this small picture book has a depth that is surprising and delightful.  Written in longer paragraphs than many picture books, the text remains completely readable and enjoyable for preschoolers.  It is because of the length of the text that the ideas can be explored fully. 

Loth combines his poetic language with stunningly simple illustrations.  The illustrations play beautifully with light and dark as well as motion.  Opening with Clementine sitting near oranges, they also play with color and shape.

The result is a book that speaks straight to the dreamer in all of us.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from NorthSouth.

The Longest Night

The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ted Lewin

The longest night of the year is very cold, very still.  One of the creatures must bring back the sun.  The wind knows which creature that is.  Crow offers to fly up and bring back the sun.  Moose offers his strength to bring it back. Fox offers to sniff and search it out.  Chickadee though is the one who must bring back the sun.  But what in the world can Chickadee do?  She cannot fly high enough.  She is not strong.  She is not cunning.  But she can do what she does best.

A poem woven into a picture book, this book is exquisite.  Bauer’s poetry has a rhythm that is almost primal.  She plays with sounds, repeats refrains, and celebrates imagery.  Her poem is deep, thrumming with the energy of the forest.  It is quiet and powerful.  But most of all it is for children but without any pretense.

Lewin’s illustrations match Bauer’s poem so well.  His illustrations explore the dark, the deep, the mysterious.  They linger in blues, blacks and moonlight.  Somehow he has captured that majestic blue of a moonlit night that is so deep and so unlike day.  When the sun returns at the end of the book, one almost shields their eyes from the brightness.  His illustrations are just as evocative as the poem, just as shining, just as powerful.

Highly recommended, this book belongs in every library.  It will work for many units from poetry to winter to moon or sun.  Share this.  It is a pleasure to read aloud such wonderful writing.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

Poetry Friday: Sky Magic

Sky Magic compilation by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrations by Mariusz Stawarski

The poems in this lovely compilations move from dawn to night, focusing on the sun, moon and stars.  You will find favorite poems mixed in with new delights.  The book is a lovely lullaby of poetry, filled with great images, wonderful verse, and inspiring language.  The poems are for children, but will speak to all readers.

The poems work well for children, but are not childish.  They are all elevated examples of children’s poetry, accessible and worth stretching for to reach.  Rather like the stars themselves.  Hopkins has paid attention to not only the length of poems, but the rhythm and flow between the poems too.   There are no jarring changes between poems, but instead it feels as if they grow from being next to one another.

Here is one of my favorites from the book.  The choice of which one to share was very difficult!

Moon Lullaby by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Lull cats to sleep,

let children dream,

shine silver blue

on gentle stream.

Glaze the house

where sleepers sigh…

as hours

as nights

as years go by.

A truly lovely anthology of poems, this book deserves a place in every library.  It will also be a great book to read aloud when studying the sun, moon or stars.  A lovely poetic interlude in science, sounds lovely.  Appropriate for ages 4-8 and older.

Check out all of the Poetry Friday posts at Crossover.

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.

Also reviewed at Wild Rose Reader and Poetry for Children.

One Giant Leap

One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh, paintings by Mike Wimmer.

In this stunning picture book, Wimmer’s remarkably realistic and expressive paintings are paired with Burleigh’s evocative and powerful verse.  Together the two capture the feeling of the moonwalk for Americans in 1969.  Children who have long known we reached the moon will be caught up in the drama of the landing and the uncertainty of the astronauts’ safe return. 

Burleigh’s poetry dances with a rhythm and deft pacing.  When readers are holding their breath with the tension, the poems come to a near halt too.  When readers are celebrating the accomplishment the poetry races, lifts, and spins.  Wimmer’s paintings are equally successful as they capture views that couldn’t be seen, scenes that were never viewed before.  They too are filled with realism, fear, and continually hope.

A masterful pairing of paintings and verse, this book soars.  Highly recommended for classrooms talking about the moon landing as well as children who are interested in space.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.