cover image LONG NIGHT MOON


Cynthia Rylant, , illus. by Mark Siegel. . S&S, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-85426-2

Rylant's (When I Was Young in the Mountains ) lilting prose-poetry, with sometimes only a few words per page, introduces the traditional Native American name for each month's full moon: "In April/ the Sprouting Grass Moon brings/ all wanderers back home./ Baby birds love this moon./ It lights their tiny heads." In a dramatic departure from his boisterous Seadogs , Siegel uses charcoal, pencil and pastels in full-bleed spreads that present the full moon as at times haunting, and at other times a large, joyful night-lamp, showering fields and forest in transluscent light. Siegel introduces human characters on the half-title page (a mother and child), seen only in silhouette. The spreads follow a single rural landscape around 360 degrees of the horizon, with the moon rising at a different compass point every month. June's Strawberry Moon bathes the landscape in a soft pink halo, August's Harvest Moon in lavender. The garden of a small house gives way to an overgrown pasture, a plowed field, a barn and a silo and, in December, back to the garden again. There, the same mother who stood outside with her baby admiring January's Stormy Moon stands there again, at year's end, looking at December's Long Night Moon, her baby visibly larger. Like a lullaby, this album of full moons offers gentle comfort at bedtime. Ages 3-6. (Dec.)