Saturday 26 September 2020

I Would Dangle the Moon

Would Dangle the Moon by Amber Moffat (MidnightSun Publishing) Hardback, RRP $29.99 32 pp ISBN 9781925227529

Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke

The moon is an object of wonder, a classic image in world literature. Writer-illustrator Amber Moffat has chosen a time-honoured theme for her debut picture book.

The full moon depicted in the illustrations reminds me of the Japanese tradition of moon viewing. Many poems have been written about the mysterious orb that lights our night sky. The roundness of the full moon is used here as a springboard for the narrator-mother’s imagination as she compares the round moon to everyday objects.

The playful, fanciful, scenarios offered to the daughter are: the moon planted in a field as a large seed; an oversized snail-shell to ride across the sky; the moon as a gem in a ring; the moon rolling down a mountain; a glowing egg in a nest; an ingredient for baking a moon cake; a pinata dangled from a tree; a scoop of ice cream; a ball thrown for a dog; a treasure washed by waves.

The repetitive textual device of “If I were a . . .” allows the reader to freely contemplate other times, places, and lives. This is an open-ended reading experience offering plenty of scope for wondering. The text is subtly poetic in subject matter but is simple and readable.

The colour palette uses rich, dark colours brightened by aqua, purple, tangerine, and gold. The clear, serif text is sometimes white against dark coloured backgrounds, for visual accessibility. The matt pictures are rendered in a flat, attractive naïve style with varying page designs in this sturdy hardcover book.

My favourite page is the original metaphor of the moon as a pinata dangled from a tree, bursting open to reveal its secrets. Who hasn’t wished for knowledge sent from the stars and the moon?

The last image invites the child into the dreamworld of sleep:

                     “But tonight we will dive under it all, deep

                       where sleep drops like silt to the seafloor,

                       and the moon is a big bright pearl,

                       suspended in your dreams.”

This is a book to enjoy with children at bedtime, in an unhurried, leisurely read, opening a conversation about mystery and possibility.

It could also be used in the classroom, as a read-together book and a catalyst for young children to write their own poems employing simple metaphors.

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