Sunday, May 8, 2011

Long Night Moon

written by Cynthia Rylant
illustrated by Mark Siegel

Serene.  Silent.   Still.  A mother stands in a gazebo bundled with her infant toddler.  The chill is in the air as she is looking out at the moon.   This is a beautifully written and illustrated book that takes a mother and her child through a year long journey of admiring the faithful moon that has become their friend.  A moon that will help them find their way home.  A moon that tells of promise and hope.
 “Long ago Native Americans gave names to the full moons they watched throughout the year.  Each month had a moon.  And each moon had its name….” Cynthia Rylant writes poetically to describe the moon each month.  Rylant personifies the moon as it misses its sister, the sun.  The Flower Moon is a smiling moon.  The Thunder Moon, listens to the clouds beat their drums.  The Acorn Moon says good-bye.  In November, it wants to sleep.  She brings a new perspective to the moon as it provides light for the many creatures active at night. 
Mark Siegel was inspired by Rylant’s poetic writing about the moon.  He took many long walks with the moon as his guide to help him reveal the perspective.   He chose charcoal to illustrate the full-bleed double page spreads throughout the book.  The colors change with each month to reveal the changes that occur in nature over each month.  The reader is drawn right in to the night, as if we are experiencing it as well. 
Rylant is able to write with breaks in the lines to make the reader pause.  It also puts emphasis on some of these lines.  She also uses cursive writing for this book.  I was wondering why this font was used.  Is it just because of the elegance that fits aesthetically with the book?  This limits the audience for children to read this book. 
I was curious about the names of these moons to see if they were accurate.  I was not able to validate all of these moons.  I am not sure that this book accurately reflects the Native American culture.

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