Max and the Tag-Along Moon

illus. by author. 32p. Philomel. June 2013. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-23342-5. LC 2011049784.
PreS-K—A big, round moon shines down on a boy and his grandfather as they share a good-bye hug, and Granpa tells Max, "That ol' moon will always shine for you…on and on." The child keeps an eye on the moon on the long drive home, spying it in the side mirror of his family's car and through branches above him. Over hills and bridges, past sleeping cows, and through a quiet town, it is always in view. Then, when dark clouds hide it, Max feels its absence. It reappears as he is going to sleep, and he throw his hands in the air with joy at the shining orb that "will always shine for me… on and on!" A lovely comforting story for children who don't like good-byes, the quiet text flows along, and the soft, diffuse paintings make the book a wonderful bedtime read-aloud. The full moon is a friendly presence on each spread, and the varied vantage points incorporate soothing imagery, such as a bird silhouetted against the sky. Signs with arrows point the way home, reassuring readers that despite the lengthy trip, Max is heading in the right direction. His face is expressive, clearly conveying his varied emotions, from wonder to happiness and wistfulness. Perfect for one-on-one readings.—Marian McLeod, Darien Library, CT
In this quiet nighttime picture book, Cooper tells a simple yet emotionally resonant story. As young Max says goodbye to his grandfather, he points out the full moon, and Granpa promises him that "That ol' moon will always shine for you…on and on!" All during the long car ride home, Max looks out the back window, keeping his eyes on the moon -- "up a hill, down a hill," "through a small town with roundabout streets," "at the mouth of a tunnel and out the other end." Max is reassured by the moon's continued presence, happy that Granpa's promise holds. Then, clouds cover the sky. Max searches for the moon but sees only darkness; he misses both the moon and his grandfather. Later, tucked up in bed, a soft yellow light fills his room, and Max rejoices at the moon's return. "Max knew then that whenever he saw the moon, he would think of Granpa, on and on." The lack of extraneous detail (Who is driving the car? One of Max's parents? Who else is in his family?) means that the reader's focus remains solely on the journey and on Max's connection with his grandfather. And the art, for all its textured lushness and warmth, is just as tightly focused: on the landscape of the journey, on the moon, or on Max himself. And all the circles (moon, side-view mirror, tunnel, clouds, fountain, Max's round head) reinforce the idea of the most important circle here -- Granpa's arms around Max. A picture book as suffused with love as its pages are with moonlight. martha v. parravano

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