In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Moon

Dear Annie,

Well, I miss your posts, but I must say you have an interesting and literate group of friends.  I'm really enjoying these guest posts.

Holly longs for a chance to read fiction with Ian, but I'm quite impressed with the non-fiction books that interest him -- including longer complicated ones like the H.A. Rey Find the Constellations.  Rey, best known as the creator of Curious George, has another astronomy book called The Stars: A New Way to See Them, written in 1952, but revised since the Pluto demotion.  I wonder if Ian's found that one, and what he thinks of it.

Holly, it's lovely that you've managed to find books that engage Ian, and that you find appealing too.  Both generations enjoying reading together is the best.  Occasionally a mom will come into the store and complain that her child -- usually, but not always, her son -- "isn't a reader."  Oh, he can read, she'll say, he reads science books all the time, but he's not reading fiction.  Many of us for whom reading fiction is central to who we are sometimes overlook the fact that non-fiction books are reading too, with plenty of chances to process what's written.  And having a child who loves to be read to means he'll grow up caring about books -- and who knows where his adult (or six year-old or 12 year-old) taste will take him.

I'm a bit of a star gazer myself, but have never seen the Andromeda galaxy, although now I intend to search for it next summer in Maine where the Milky Way shines brightly.  I thought I'd offer Ian a few books about the celestial body he can see: the moon.  There's a series called Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science which has dozens of books aimed at the early elementary grades but very read-aloud friendly for the younger crowd.  The topics include plants and animals, human body, weather, dinosaurs, earth science, and space.  I once met a mom and her first grade daughter who were working their way through all the books, which could take a while. 
The Moon Seems to Change
gives the basics of sun-moon-earth alignments, and also talks about what you'll see in the sky, and where different-shaped moons will be. When the illustrations include people looking at the sky, the backgrounds are usually urban. It gives a fair amount of information, with no bad puns. 

What the Moon is Like
gets you up to the lunar surface  There's lots of description of what it looks like, and what the astronauts did when they were there.

There is no air on the moon -- no dust, water droplets, or molecules in the sky.  There is nothing in the sky to be lighted, so it is always black.
From the moon, people can see the stars at night, just as we can from Earth.  But they can see the stars in daytime, too.  They can see stars in the black sky when the sun is shining.

I thought I'd sneak in a little moon fiction here, too, since we're on the subject of lunar travel.  Back in my first post, I talked about
Man on the Moon (a day in the life of Bob)
, by Simon Bartram. It's the story of a man who commutes to the moon to work every day. His job is to clean up the moon (all that dust!) and to tell the tourists that there are no such things as aliens.  Even as he's saying that, of course, cheerful little green men with antennae are popping up in the background in every picture (note green guy under Bob's elbow on the cover).  He remains happily oblivious through the whole book.

Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon-Pie Adventure
by Tony DiTerlizzi, as the title promises, offers a little more excitement. Jimmy flies his jalopy to the crescent moon before supper because he's longing for a moon pie. After some negotiation, the Man in the Moon gives him a thousand pies ("Gadzooks!" says Jimmy, "A whole year's supply!"), but on his way home, Jimmy ends up crash-landing on Mars. He's met by 999 friendly little blue men, all of whom are hungry. And then a monster shows up.  All gets resolved very cordially -- burps play a crucial role -- and Jimmy makes it home in time for supper.  It's fun and the illustrations are lush and full of detail.

There's a full moon tonight, by the way.  Didn't realize that until I wrote all this.  Enjoy it.




  1. I was very fortunate to be walking home late (almost midnight!) last night after a concert and the full moon looked stunning. Shall definitely have to track down some of these books. Our favourite moon book is Moonshot / Brian Floca

  2. Our school library has a biography of Ham the Astrochimp (by Richard Hillard). He was the first American chimp in space. I always notice it because I think he's the only animal biography shelved in the 921s (biographies) rather than in with animals.

    We also admired the moon last night. And this morning, when it lit up our bus stop. Thank goodness the days are starting earlier so that soon it won't be dark night when we get up.