Perfect Picture Book Friday – Bringing Down the Moon

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

bringing_down_the_moon_coverTitle: Bringing Down the Moon

Author: Jonathan Emmett

Illustrator: Vanessa Cabban

Publisher: Candlewick

Year: 2001

Genre: Fiction picture book

Ages: 3-8

Themes: Perseverance; friendship

Opening: “Hot diggety!” exclaimed Mole as he burrowed out of the ground one night. “Whatever’s that?”

The moon was hanging in the sky above him, like a bright silver coin. Mole thought that it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) Mole thinks the moon is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen, and he wants to have it for his own. But as his friends Rabbit, Hedgehog, and Squirrel remind him, some things are not as simple — or as close — as they look! A lyrical text and cozy woodland illustrations portray this mole on a mission with gentle humor and charm.

What makes it great: The simple yet unpredictable storyline, a repetitive phrase, and gentle, encouraging characters make this a wonderful read. I also love stories where the reader knows something the main character doesn’t.  There’s a lot of humor that can be mined there, and with this book Jonathan Emmett struck gold.

What readers notice: My 3-year-old found this book very appealing. She liked seeing what Mole would try to get the moon down, and enjoyed the climax when Mole thinks he’s knocked the moon to the ground and broken it.

What a writer notices: I love the fact that the animal characters are true to their animal natures: Mole, a digger, has never seen the moon before; Hedgehog is a little prickly when he is awakened by Mole’s activity; Squirrel is playful.

I also appreciated the author’s use of a repetitive phrase. Each character gently explains to Mole that he won’t be able to bring down the moon because “It’s not as close as it looks.” This comes full circle in the end when Mole finally realizes that he won’t be able to capture the moon and acknowledges that “It’s not as close as it looks.” Having Mole repeat the phrase at the end brings the story full circle and adds an element of wry humor.

Activities/Links to Resources: 

See some interior illustrations, and read an extensive author’s note:

http://www.scribblestreet.co.uk/pictures/mole1/mole1.html

A lesson about identifying the problem and solution in a story:

http://www.readworks.org/sites/default/files/bundles/lessons-gradek-plot-lesson-4.pdf

This blog has discussion questions appropriate for toddlers on this topic:

http://toddlerbrain.blogspot.com/2009/08/bringing-down-moon.html

A science lesson on how distance affects perception of size:

http://www.eyeonthesky.org/lessonplans/12sun_littlemoon.html

25 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday – Bringing Down the Moon

  1. I’m familiar with this story as well and I agree it’s a delightful telling of a simple plot with a clever twist. I found it to be magical all around. Thanks for taking a writerly and kid-loving look at it and for including activity ideas.

  2. This sounds and looks lovely, Carrie! I also like animal stories where the animals seem like they should. And what is it with sweet mole books? Have you ever read Mole Music? LOVE that book – it’s one of the first I did for PPBF. In that one, Mole plays violin, which is perhaps less true to a mole’s nature 🙂 but the story is fabulous! Thanks for sharing this one. We could do a unit on moles 🙂

  3. A charming book. The cover is inviting too. I like the story line and how the author portrays the animals. Also, I wonder if some young children may think they can capture the moon. Lovely choice.

    • It’s funny, my reviews tend to be so focused on the story and text that I sometimes don’t even mention the illustrations, but these are lovely and vivid, despite taking place at night.

  4. Loved this Carrie. Must look for it in our library. Could be useful with my revision in looking at animal behaviour blending in the storyline. Thanks for this. It has the most adorable illustrations too.

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