cover image RISE THE MOON


Eileen Spinelli, , illus. by Raúl Colón. . Dial, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2601-7

Colón's (My Mama Had a Dancing Heart) richly textured, at times capricious illustrations light up this poetic tribute to the moon and the many magical and mysterious ways it influences and inspires. Wrought in the artist's signature style, the pictures portray various moonstruck beings as they go about their business, suggesting an ethereal connection among those who come alive when the sun goes down. A lunar moth flits across a moonflower vine, which reappears a few pages later on a rooftop as a dancer does a "graceful moon-dance/ on her neighbor's garden stone" (the "neighbor," a painter, has been introduced in the intervening spread). These smooth opening transitions are not evenly maintained, which can be confusing for readers trying to ascertain a pattern. In each scene, a sometimes grandfatherly, sometimes childlike (and mostly full) moon smiles contentedly down on the different night creatures; the moon's expression mimics that of the earthbound character (or characters). Spinelli's (When Mama Comes Home Tonight) verse sometimes runs to excess ("Within its spell of splendor/ we are/ moon-hearted creatures/ all"). Nor does it always make sense. For example, an artist, bafflingly painting by moonlight, "takes his brush/ to paint a bowl of light" (creating a child-friendly image, Colón puts fruit into the bowl). But the sounds of the verse are soothing and, combined with the luxuriant paintings, make for a pleasant bedtime read. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)