The Children's Book Compass

Posts Tagged ‘Ladder to the Moon

These three books celebrate grandparents and emphasize the strength of the relationships between the generations.  They are distinguished by the waves of love they portray between grandparent and child.   Grandparents will want to read aloud the books to their youngsters.  Each book is an outstanding example of how a beautifully crafted text and illustrations can be melded together into a luscious and memorable picture book.


Your Moon, My Moon: A Grandmother’s Words to a Faraway Child  by Patricia MacLachlan. Illus. Bryan Collier.  Simon & Schuster.  Grades P- 3.  Picture Book.

MacLachlan lives in New England, her grandchild in Africa.  Her lyrical text celebrates the things they have enjoyed together on visits to each other and the things that are unique about the places they each live.  “Where I live we sleep under/quilts/and wear wooly socks/when it is cold.”  Then she contrasts how her grandchild sleeps, “Where you live you sleep under a netting/like a royal child, safe from buzzing mosquitoes.” Collier’s elegant illustrations in watercolors and collages extend the text and add a story of the grandmother preparing and then traveling to Africa to see her beloved grandchild.

These Hands by Margaret H. Mason.  Illus. Floyd Cooper.  Houghton Mifflin.  Grades P-3.  Picture Book.

In a repeating refrain a grandpa tells his grandson about all the things his hands can do and have done.

Look at these hands, Joseph.

Did you know these hands

used to make the ivories sing

like a sparrow in springtime?

Well, I can still show a young fellow

how to play “Heart and Soul”

–yes, I can.

The grandpa describes all his talents from playing baseball to card tricks.  He also tells how because of racism his hands “were not allowed to mix/the bread dough/in the Wonder Bread factory.”  His hands

..were only allowed

to sweep the floors

and work the line

and load the trucks.

Because the bosses said

white people would not want to eat bread

touched by these hands.

Then, the grandpa explains how he joined with others to achieve civil rights and “Now any hands can touch the bread dough . . . ”  The grandson brings the story full circle with recounting all the things he can do with his hands and grandpa affirms that his grandson’s “hands can do anything./ Anything at all in this whole wide world.”  An Author’s Note at the end explains how racism in the past caused other inequities.  Cooper’s uses an oil wash in sepia tones finished with kneaded erasers that give a soft, evocative look to the illustrations.

Ladder to the Moon by Ladder to the Moon by Maya Soetoro-Ng Illus. by Yuyi Morales.  Candlewick Press.  Grades P-3.  Picture Book.

Here’s a book to share at bedtime with a beloved child.   A young child,  Suhaila, asks her mother what her grandma was like.  Her mother answers, “She was like the moon, . . . Full, soft and curious.  Your grandma would wrap her arms around the whole world if she could.”  Later in bed the child imagines that her grandmother descends from the moon on a golden ladder and takes her back to the moon.  Together they gazed down on the earth and embraced those that were experiencing troubles and needed love and support.  Grandma Annie brings the troubled folk up the golden ladder.  “One by one, every person was finding his or her own path to the moon, each path connecting with the others in hope’s massive stream.”  Together grandma and child bring healing to the people.  Finally, they part with “a snuggle and a smooch.”  Suhaila feels “proud for having helped others heal – for having helped others learn to move forward and upward and around.” In  Soetoro-Ng ‘s note at the end she explains how the book was inspired by her mother, Ann Dunham, who is also the mother of President Barack Obama, and her daughter’s questions about her late grandmother.   Morales illustrations are amazing, capturing the moon’s glow, the healing touch of Grandma Annie, and the caring embrace of those who love.


Pointing the Direction to New Books for Children and Teens

Marilyn Carpenter, PhD.

Contact Marilyn

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