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And If the Moon Could Talk

by Kate Banks

Publishers Weekly With quiet phrases and luxurious color, Banks and Hallensleben (Baboon) evoke a perfectly peaceful bedtime. In a stuccoed house, amid tranquil lakes and orderly rows of trees, a girl plays with stuffed animals and listens to a story read by her father. Far away, the moon glows on tall hills, desert, jungle and ocean, where people and wild animals prepare for sleep. Full-bleed spreads expertly relate the text's alternating descriptions of relaxed interior and exterior scenes. In the child's bedroom "on a small table sits a glass, a wooden boat, a starfish, too." Hallensleben connects the spread that follows, "if the moon could talk, it would tell of waves washing onto the beach, shells, and a crab resting," with a painting of boats bobbing on a tranquil sea, whose color gently echoes the water glass on the bedside table of the previous spread. The story closes with the child tucked into bed and the moon whispering, "Good night." Hallensleben complements the hushed narrative with warm cushions of paint: the girl's thick blanket is egg-yolk yellow with orange-red dots and the pillows are as deep blue as the night sky. The outdoor panoramas have the same intimacy, whether they feature a lioness and her cubs, or a red tractor lumbering toward a yellow-lit farmhouse. As night gently envelops the landscapes, the words and art convey the snug warmth of a featherbed and a world as small as a neighborhood. Ages 3-5. (Mar.)

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Ages 3^-5. The author and the illustrator of Spider Spider (1996) and Baboon (1997) offer a cousin to the classic Goodnight Moon, suffused with a similar sense of comfortable, comforting domestic intimacy. As night falls, a child's bedtime routine echoes the outdoor scenes on alternating spreads: she sits in her father's lap looking at a picture of camels and listening to a story that "unfolds like a banner wandering across the sky," while sand blows across a distant desert; just as a light flicks on in the hall, stars appear over a small town; and a bit later, while birds are settling down in a cozy nest, her mother tucks her in with a hug. Hallensleben uses a large brush and bright, vigorously applied colors to give each scene an expressionistic intensity of feeling. With its features only faint, suggestive swirls, the moon lights woodlands, desert, a tranquil beach, a lion licking her cubs, and, at the end, the sleeping child snuggled down under a comforter--but the visual links go far beyond that, as bedroom objects, animals, and even color combinations consistently recur in different but related forms outside. Using heightened but not self-consciously "poetic" language, Banks opens her patterned text on a strong note ("A window yawns open. Twilight blazes a trail across the wall.") that progressively subsides to a murmurous conclusion. A study in verbal and visual harmony from the title on. --John Peters

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal K-Gr 2?In this quiet lyrical story by the collaborators of Baboon (Farrar, 1997), a sense of peace prevails. Evening approaches. Inside, a child goes through her bedtime rituals?a story, a glass of water, a hug from Mama. Outside, the moon shines down on a world slowly preparing for nighttime?stars appear, wind rocks a tree, a lion licks her cubs. The deeply saturated tones of the lovely, impressionistic oil paintings perfectly match the somnolent feeling of the text. Moonlight illuminates the countryside while warm colors exude a cozy ambiance in the house. The repetitious text adds to the subdued mood. Perfect for one-on-one sharing, this book will enhance bedtime story collections.?Anne Knickerbocker, Cedar Brook Elementary School, Houston, TX

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.