cover image Sometimes Moon

Sometimes Moon

Carole Lexa Schaefer. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-517-70980-1

Fans of Schaefer and Morgan's elegant ode to imagination, The Squiggle, may be disappointed by this meandering text, which sacrifices the story to teach a lesson. Morgan's gouache illustrations, done on speckled, light-brown paper, strongly suggest an Ionian inspiration (as does the book's dedication): the characters wear heavy hand-knit sweaters, gentle turquoise and blue waves lap at a pebbled shore and fishing boats float in front of whitewashed homes. Yet the narrative never mentions the beguiling setting or the non-American village culture. Instead, the text offers a study in the phases of the moon (including a bland diagram on ""How the Moon Waxes and Wanes"") that inadvertently competes with the unexplained old world imagery. Selene, the girl narrator, learns about the changing moon from her grandfather. ""Grandpapa says, `The moon waxes and wanes, waxes and wanes. Did you know?' I know. I always look out for Moon."" She calls the half moon ""Big Basket Moon"" after her mother's half-circle knitting basket, and thinks of the waxing gibbous moon as ""Cheeky Moon"" because it looks like ""Baby Nico's cheeks."" Some of the images are framed in full-moon-like circles, and a rebus-like key to the phases of the moon appears at the bottom of some of the pages; but the visual cues, like the plot, are inconsistent. The story here is eclipsed by an uneasy mix of natural science, a child's imaginative musings and an exotic setting. Ages 5-8. (July)