When the Moon Smiled: A Bedtime Counting Book

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9780763622091: When the Moon Smiled: A Bedtime Counting Book
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Petr Horacek’s vividly colorful illustrations and multiplying die-cut stars make for a bedtime counting book that twinkles with charm.

Night has come to the farm, but the moon is not smiling. The animals are all out of place, and to set things right, the moon needs to light the stars, one by one. As the number of yellow die-cut stars increases on each page, little readers will be eager to count them (and to count all the animals, too). With appealingly childlike artwork in rich glowing hues, this warm, clever counting book will bring smiles all around.

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About the Author:

Petr Horacek is a Czech illustrator and painter whose previous novelty books include FLIP'S DAY, FLIP'S SNOWMAN, STRAWBERRIES ARE RED, and WHAT IS BLACK AND WHITE? His aim in WHEN THE MOON SMILED was to depict "one of those nights when everything is topsy-turvy, and nothing feels right."

From The Washington Post:

A Lunar Legacy

The moon looms large in picture books, since so many authors over the years have been drawn into its orbit. It is a constant, comforting presence in Margaret Wise Brown's classic Goodnight Moon (1947). It is an object of pure beauty, a pearl placed in the sky by an old man each evening, in Barbara Helen Berger's Grandfather Twilight (1984). It is a source of wonderment in The Moon Comes Home (1989) by poet Mary Jo Salter -- "How could the moon be here/ for everyone out there?" And in many books it is the symbol -- so round, so bright, so unreachable -- of all the things a child wants but cannot have. That theme is addressed most recently in Kevin Henkes' superbly illustrated fable Kitten's First Full Moon (HarperCollins, $15.99, reviewed in Book World March 14), in which a little cat mistakes the moon for a bowl of milk.

Not surprisingly, the moon has also inspired wish-fulfillment fantasies. This delightful subset includes James Thurber's witty 1943 fairy tale Many Moons, about a princess who throws the royal court into an intellectual turmoil by demanding the moon; Eric Carle's Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me (1986), in which a heroic dad actually fetches the elusive orb for his daughter by means of a very long ladder; and Rachel Captures the Moon (2001), Richard Ungar's amusing version of a Jewish folktale about the foolish people of Chelm, whose sadness over the moon's coming and going is assuaged when a young girl nets it for them in a rain barrel.

Then there are the books that answer the questions puzzling Chelmites and young observers alike: Where does the moon go in the daytime? Why does it wax and wane, occasionally disappearing from the night sky altogether? Some, such as Gail Gibbons's indispensable The Moon Book (1997), offer straightforward scientific explanations of lunar phenomena from phases to eclipses, plus an account of humanity's visits to the moon. Some, like Seymour Simon's The Moon (revised edition 2003), do the same with the help of NASA's most mesmerizing photographs. Others prefer to leaven science with whimsy. In Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, for instance, the daughter gets the moon but is puzzled when it proceeds to shrink. In The Nightgown of the Sullen Moon (surely a candidate for best children's book title ever), Nancy Willard explains the lunar cycle in terms of the moon's wish for a flannel nightgown just like the ones people wear on Earth below.

More Moon Magic

Several new picture books besides Henkes' are worthy of joining those standouts on the moonstruck child's bookshelf. In the moon-as-comforter category, When the Moon Smiled, by Petr Horacek (Candlewick, $14.99; ages 3-5), is a keeper. Looking down on a farm one night, the moon is grim-faced. "All the animals were doing the wrong things. The animals who were supposed to sleep at night were still awake. The animals who were supposed to wake up at night were still asleep." To set things right, the moon decides to light the stars. As each one twinkles on, an effect achieved with clever cutouts, the animals gradually settle down, from the farm's lone dog through a pair of cats, a trio of cows, a quartet of bats and so on, up to 10 moths. Finally, the moon smiles. Both a counting book and a lullaby, this book is at once funny, soothing and beautiful to look at; Horacek's watercolor-and-crayon illustrations are extraordinarily vivid.

I Took the Moon for a Walk, by Carolyn Curtis, illustrated by Alison Jay (Barefoot, $16.99; ages 4-8) is reminiscent of Salter's The Moon Comes Home because it, too, is a poem about the moon's seeming to follow you wherever you go. Here, a little boy tells us, "I took the Moon for a walk last night./ It followed behind like a still summer kite." What's nice is the blend of lyricism and precise observation. Notice, for example, how the break in the line "I carried my flashlight just in case/ the Moon got scared and hid its face" allows for two interpretations, one fanciful and one matter-of-fact (a flashlight outshines moonlight). Jay's illustrations, painted on paper "with a crackling varnish," according to the publisher, have an antique look, the deep blue skies suggesting medieval illumination.

In Carolyn Arden's Goose Moon, illustrated by Jim Postier (Boyds Mills, $15.95; ages 5-up), the moon is not so much the focus as a prop in a gentle story about seasonal change and patterns of animal behavior. Impatient for the long winter to be over, a little girl living on a farm in an obviously northern state learns from her grandfather about the "Goose Moon" -- that "magic night, when the moon is perfectly full and clear," when "the geese will follow the stars to find their way home to us," heralding the return of summer. While there is nothing novel about Postier's warm, glowing, strictly representational watercolors, they suit the story's sturdy pastoral qualities. The painting of the geese crossing the full moon is an "ET" moment with wings instead of bicycles. In an author's note, Arden explains the story's origin in the Native American tradition of naming each full moon of the year; the Moon When the Geese Come Home was the Omaha name for February. Children interested in this aspect of the story might also enjoy Moonstick: The Season of the Sioux (1997), by Eve Bunting.

Finally, a new science book from a Canadian publisher puts all things lunar in a larger context for budding young astronomers. In The Kids Book of the Night Sky, by Ann Love and Jane Drake (Kids Can Press, $19.95 hardcover, $12.95 paperback; ages 4-10), the moon gets just a single chapter -- but what a chapter. It includes "an exclusive biography"; the inside scoop on craters; how to make a pinhole viewer for a solar eclipse, when the moon blocks the sun; how to simulate a lunar eclipse; how to predict the occultation of a star (and what that wonderful word means); plus moon myths from Ireland and China, all energetically illustrated by Heather Collins. Then it's on to the stars, the seasonal charms of the changing night sky, and those regularly appearing guests, the planets. As President Bush might say, why stop at the moon?

By Elizabeth Ward


Copyright 2004, The Washington Post Co. All Rights Reserved.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780744570472: When the Moon Smiled: A First Counting Book

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ISBN 10:  0744570476 ISBN 13:  9780744570472
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd, 2005
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9780744596557: When the Moon Smiled

Gardne..., 2003
Hardcover

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