Thou silver deity of secret night,
Direct my footsteps through the woodland shade;
Thou conscious witness of unknown delight,
The Lover’s guardian, and the Muse’s aid!
– Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
The moon has been a subject of mystery and lore since time immemorial. The ever-changing face of our most steadfast celestial sidekick has been a muse for poets, a companion to wayfarers, a tireless timepiece, a shepherd of the tides, a scapegoat, a god, and the inspiration for countless pieces of art. Not least among them are the two books I wish to introduce today. The first is Pearl by Molly Idle and the second in Moonday by Adam Rex.
Pearl by Molly Idle
This wonderfully illustrated gem combines all the whimsy of an early Disney cartoon with the ancestral charm of a creation story. Little Pearl wants to take care of something important but is demoralized when her mother puts her in charge of a lowly grain of sand, indistinguishable and undistinguished from among the countless others that are found in the sea and along the shore. We, the reader, are aware of the potential of a grain of sand, but Pearl’s emotional and introspective journey covers topics as broad-reaching as parenthood, the meaning of work, and the value of beauty.
Rendered in delightful pastels and told with expressive vocabulary (illuminated, glowered, persevered), this short but beautiful tale is much more than just a narrative about how pearls are made. It lends itself to many different discussions and lessons in class; limited palette art, “why” stories, narrative, etc. Introduce or follow-up any reading with this revealing interview with the author.
The clouds come and go,
providing a rest for all
the moon viewers
Moonday by Adam Rex
My introduction to the imaginative worlds of Adam Rex came through his curious roadside attraction of a book, Tree Ring Circus. That book and Moonday are very different but both contain the magic realism that Rex brings to much of his output through his fantastical-yet-believable illustrations. Moonday asks less of us as readers than the meaning-laden Pearl. Instead it dreamily drifts from beginning to end without too much ado. The characters accept their otherworldly predicament with moony nonchalance (sorry).
Moonday is best used for inspiration for writing “What if” stories, circle art projects, or units on the moon and its actual effects on the Earth and the creatures that inhabit it. Augment any lesson with this interesting interview with the author.
Add to either of these book with an exploration of this incredibly detailed image of the north pole of the moon or NASA’s cool interactive site. Let me know if you get any reactions or feedback from students from reading either of these heavenly books.