This week, the books we have been reading in the library have all been about the moon. And in a curious stroke of coincidence (the books were chosen randomly), rabbits feature in two of them!
Each of the books offers a gentle story, full of folklore about dreams and the night sky, though the children would not be swayed by my suggestion that the moon might be made of cheese (I was told it was ‘an old joke’) – the early teaching of science is obviously setting folk and fairy tales to rights as I was strenuously told that it is made of rock.
See what you think, and enjoy the following reviews!
The Mouse Who Ate the Moon, by Petr Horáček. Published by Walker Books.
When a little piece of the moon falls from the sky, Little Mouse can’t resist a little nibble. And another … Soon the moon is no longer round. What will happen to it now?
This ‘peep-through’ story book was very popular with the children. The strategic little holes and creatively cut pages helped add to the intrigue in the book as Little Mouse worries that she’s actually eaten a piece of the moon, despite her friends’ reassurance that this is very unlikely. The children also insisted that the mouse was not eating the moon (I will resist a spoiler here as to what it’s actually eating!) and gave good reasons why they believed it was something else.
The illustrations are delightful, full of colour and an almost 3-D quality, complementing the text well, and the page layouts are clean and engaging, encouraging the children to try to infer what might be happening. We enjoyed this book and I think we will be going back to it often!
Before I Wake Up, by Brita Teckentrup, published by Prestel Verlag.
Where can you go to in your dreams? A little girl and her lion friend find out in this magical story.
In these pages, we travel with the young female protagonist through the worlds of her dreams – swimming in oceans, riding through jungles and meeting all sorts of characters. The moon acts as a kind of hot-air balloon, pulling the girl to different scenarios in her bed, which is the basket. Her constant companion – a loving lion – keeps her safe and watches carefully as she has her adventures.
As always, Brita Teckentrup’s illustrations are a joy to behold. She adds so much depth and detail to her collage-like pictures that you could spend ages noticing new things. The palette she uses in this particular book is of muted colours to reflect the different world of dreams and to emphasise that these journeys are taking place at night in the imagination. Some of the spreads blur features, representing, perhaps, the transitional stages between dreams, with old images fading and new ones replacing them. The entire book is like one, beautiful dream and is soothing to read and look at.
Luna and the Moon Rabbit, by Camille Whitcher. Published by Salariya and Scribblers
Winner of the Stratford-Salariya Picture Book Prize
Inspired by Asian folklore, this is the magical tale of a young girl called Luna who befriends the giant rabbit who lives in the Moon and goes with it on a soothing, dreamlike adventure.
We’ve all heard of the Man in the Moon (haven’t we? most of the children hadn’t!) but a Moon Rabbit was a new revelation to me today when I read this lovely book. Apparently, in China and other Asian countries, there is a myth that a rabbit lives in the moon, with its pestle and mortar. This picture book follows this tale, beginning with the appropriately named Luna looking at the moon with her grandmother, who tells her that the rabbit will visit those who leave a rice cake out for them. Luna does this and, to her amazement, the rabbit comes to take her on a moonlit adventure.
The illustrations in this story are beautiful and contrast darkness and light superbly. The chiaroscuro not only reflects the opposites of black and white or silver, but conveys a peaceful atmosphere in this book. The later addition of the cheery yellow of dandelions brightens up the book, like muted suns.
All of these stories are perfect story for bedtime – in fact, one little girl in Reception fell asleep listening to them and didn’t wake up for over an hour!
As an extension, I asked the children in Year 2 today to draw pictures based on one of the books. I said they could change the story lines or characters if they wished and come up with their own versions. The children were thrilled to do this and the following are some of the gorgeous pictures they did.