cover image Ladder to the Moon

Ladder to the Moon

Maya Soetoro-Ng, illus. by Yuyi Morales, Candlewick, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4570-0

Soetoro-Ng and illustrator Morales (Floating on Mama's Song) collaborate on a vision of divine love, a love incarnated in a warm, round, brown-skinned grandmother. Soetoro-Ng (who is President Obama's half-sister) writes that the story sprang from a wish that her own mother had lived to meet her granddaughter. In the story, Suhaila's mother tells Suhaila about her Grandma Annie: "Your grandma would wrap her arms around the whole world if she could." That night, Annie appears outside Suhaila's bedroom window and leads her up a golden ladder to the moon, where, from their celestial vantage point, they invite those on Earth they see are bereaved or in need of sustenance up into the sky for healing and rest. Morales conjures these images with real power, painting worshippers of many races and faiths illuminated by candlelight, infants with wings, and softly padded women whose arms promise forgiveness. The phrase "she knew more than she had known before" is repeated like a mantra as Suhaila witnesses cycles of suffering and healing. Nontraditional spiritual literature for children often falters in the execution; this work fulfills its promise. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)