Review Blog

Nov 07 2012

The moon shines out of the dark by Stephanie Dowrick

cover image

Ill. by Anne Spudvilas. Allen and Unwin, 2012. ISBN 978 1 74237 565 6.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Picture book. Art. Family. Harry is content. His mother always tells him what the time is: time for bed, time to wake up, or time for the bus. They have a close relationship and it is she who fills the space beneath his bed to allay any monsters that may get in and it is she who looks at the moon with Harry at night, contemplating how long it would take to climb there. He wonders when he will be able to get a ladder to climb and after telling him that he must be 12 to do this, she assures him that she will be there to hold it. But one day she goes away, and Harry is bereft. There is no-one to tell him when to get up or catch the bus or when to sleep. Dad works hard at his office, and sometimes Kate next door comes to look after him when Dad is working. One night watching the clouds in the night sky, watching the moon and missing his mother, he hears footsteps on the stairs, and both parents come in to see if he is still awake. Mum assures him that she will listen to all his adventures tomorrow but first they look at the moon together.
The succinct prose, the beautiful images created by Dowrick allied to the sweep of water colour images created by Spudvilas is most arresting. Together this pair of creators has produced a stunning story of the relationship between a mother and her son, the boy eager to share the things he thinks about and seek her reassurance that he is safe. Both the prose and the illustrations create a comforting, happy environment for Harry, at night looking at the moon with Mum and when she is away, with Dad at his office. The family created here is loving and solicitous, with Harry at its core, a delightful child interested in what is happening around him, but needing the comfort and security of being told when things are to occur.
Fran Knight

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