Did you see that glorious supermoon last night?! Breathtaking.
I’ve noticed a spate of titles coming out this year focusing on the moon and what better time to share them. There’s something about that spill of silver on the lawn, that luminous, glowing ball lighting up the sky, that enchants us, right? Here are some treats to enjoy by the light of the moon.
Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon, written and illustrated by Torben Kuhlmann, English translation by David Henry Wilson
published in 2016 by NorthSouth Books
The amazing Torben Kuhlmann is back with another flying mouse! His first book, Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse, reviewed here, won him immediate, worldwide status as a storyteller to watch.
Here, once again, we are treated to a sumptuous feast of his precise, copious, stunning illustration work as he spins the tale of the U.S.-Soviet Space Race into a mouse-ish fantasy. Kuhlmann’s architectural details and mechanical gadgetry are the bomb!
The hordes of common, ordinary New York City mice are convinced that the moon is made of cheese. They’ve got no time for this fellow Armstrong’s nonsense about a giant ball of stone spinning along in outer space. When Armstrong ventures to the Smithsonian, though, he meets an elderly mouse named Lindbergh who encourages him to follow his flights of fancy — to study up and fly to the moon.
It’s a long, arduous, journey, and one not reported by the major broadcasting networks! You’ll be amazed and surprised to discover just who was the first to plant a tiny foot on the moon!
An illustrated, short history of space travel is included. It’s an inspired, colossal treat for ages 7 through adult.
The Darkest Dark, written by Chris Hadfield with Kate Fillion, illustrated by the Fan Brothers
published in 2016 by Little, Brown and Company
Tip #1: If you see something illustrated by the Fan Brothers — do not hesitate! Grab it! That’s what led me to this book which turns out to be a lovely, nostalgic, and definitely more historically-accurate account of space travel than the mousey adventure above!
It’s the semi-autobiographical account of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, but don’t let that dry word “semi-autobiographical” conjure up anything remotely fusty. This book goes down like lemon pudding.
Hadfield grew up summering at a cottage amidst the pristine wilderness of Stag Island, Ontario. It was a glorious spot for canoeing and playing the ukulele under towering pines. But…when night fell, so far from any city lights, it was darker than dark, and Chris was afraid of the dark. Those aliens hiding in his room. Scary stuff.
On July 20, 1969, Chris watched the grainy images of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The intrigue of those intrepid explorers, the dusty surface of the moon, the mysterious, very dark-darkness of outer space — well it all tripped a switch in Hadfield’s young mind. Suddenly he could appreciate the “power and mystery and velvety black beauty of the dark.”
It’s a great story. And those Fan Brothers! Oh my. Their tender palette, soft textures, serene compositions, yesteryear sensibility — it’s all mesmerizing. Then they go ahead and drop in the most adorably-spooky aliens you could imagine. Capture the glowing magic of the moon. Charm us with a darling pug. And blast imagination into our dreams. A-ma-zing.
Top it off with a note about Hadfield and a photo montage of his childhood and astronaut experiences and ladies and gentlemen — we have a winner! Ages 3 and up.
For another gorgeous look at conquering fear of the dark by focusing on the beauty of the moon, try:
The Moon Inside, written by Sandra V. Feder, illustrated by Aimée Sicuro, published in 2016 by Groundwood Books.
I won’t take the time to thoroughly review this charming story, but take a look at some of the artwork and you’ll get a terrific feel for the cadence and tone of this soothing, affectionate account.
No need for further enticements, right? So sweet for sharing with children ages 2 and up.
The Moon’s Almost Here, written by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Tomie dePaola
published in 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Waves of tranquil turquoise, amethyst, ocean blue and moonlit silver flood the pages of this bedtime rhyme, created by a team of children’s literature masters.
The sky is deepening from the pale blue of early evening to the deep midnight blue of full-on night, and creatures large and small are making their ways home to sleep. Mother robin gathers her babies to the nest, the mare whinnies a song to her colt, and fireflies begin their evening twinkling.
Tomie dePaola’s mime leads a white-robed child over these slumberous hillsides, witness to all this tucking in, and witness to the enormous beauty of the moon, flooding the skies with her shine.
It’s a lovely, hushed bedtime book for ages 15 months and up.
Mr. Squirrel and the Moon, written and illustrated by Sebastian Meschenmoser, translated from the German by David Henry Wilson
first published in Germany, 2006;English translation published in 2015 by NorthSouth Books
“One morning Mr. Squirrel woke up because the moon had fallen onto his tree.”
Now that, my friends, is quite a wake-up call!
For this frowsy squirrel, it causes out-and-out panic. How did it get here? Did a thief snatch it from the sky and lose it on his doorstep? Might the authorities come looking for it and accuse him of the burglary? In which case, would he wind up in jail?! A grim vision of a barren cell, impeccably rendered by Meschenmoser, equipped with a tiny bunk and even teensier wee commode, flashes before Mr. Squirrel’s eyes.
So begins squirrel’s epic struggle to restore the moon to its rightful spot. It’s an outlandish, trouble-plagued effort, brilliantly told via Meschenmoser’s scratchity lines, expressive animal figures, and judicious swishes of color.
The story begins on the endpapers of the book and continues on the frontispiece, so don’t miss the surprising first incidents in this wild sequence of events. Fantastic for ages 2 and up.
Almost a Full Moon, written by Hawksley Workman, illustrated by Jensine Eckwall
published in 2016 by Tundra Books
A snowy day. A gleaming, almost-full moon. A kettle of delicious homemade soup, chock full of pumpkin and parsnips and aromatic herbs.
All magically draw a flurry of folks to this cozy cottage to share a hot meal round the table on a cold night.
That’s the gist of the lyrics to a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman which make up the text to this book. It’s a homespun ode to community, beauty, wintertime, good soup, and the moon.
This is Jensine Eckwall’s first book and oh my! I am completely smitten with her illustration work! (View more of it at her gorgeous website here.) A lovely, autumn-spice, watercolor palette, rich details and hearty companionableness, the warmth of home and the chill of a frosty night — every page is a beauty. “Let’s make some soup ’cause the weather’s turning cold!” Chant it with gusto, along with little soup-slurpers ages 18 months and up.