cover image One Round Moon and a Star for Me

One Round Moon and a Star for Me

Ingrid Mennen. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06804-5

Atmospheric details particularize this affecting tale of a rural southern African boy whose mother has just given birth. The boy, narrating, begins with an expression of awe: ``A falling star, Mama! Look how Papa catches it in his warm brown blanket. See how it slips into his silver milk bucket. `A star for a new baby,' says Mama.'' After Papa proudly inspects the baby and announces, ``I'm the baby's father,'' the older boy wonders, ``Papa, are you really my papa too?'' Papa reassures him, promising that another star will fall from the sky just for him. The use of native terms (a ``tula-tula hush-hush song'') and references to local practices (sticking two stalks of grass above the door to signify a birth; celebrating the new arrival by flooring the hut with fresh cow-dung) enhance this journey abroad. Daly's gently reverent pencil-and-watercolor illustrations reinforce Mennen's comforting depiction of a world where a boy might indeed catch a star in his palm, and where the special quality of each child is valued. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)