written by Maya Soetoro-Ng
illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Publisher: Candlewick (April 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780763645700, ISBN-13: 978-0763645700
Reading level: Ages 4-8 (and up)
My rating: 5/5 stars
Ladder to the Moon is such a rich, warm book that it seems to enfold you within the pages, encouraging you to hope and to dream. It touched me deeply, making me cry, and felt hopeful, comforting, and tender. This is a book you will want to read and to share.
In Ladder To The Moon, Suhaila never knew her grandmother, and asks about her. That night, she climbs a ladder to the moon and gets to know her grandmother, and listens to the songs of the moon and the earth with her, finding strength. Together, they invite children and people away from various troubles on the earth, and bring them to the safety of the moon. After a long night, Suhaila heads home again, and tells her mom all about her experience.
I love reading about children and people being saved from horrors and finding safety, and I especially love reading about children getting comfort, love, and strength, and Suhaila and all the other children do from Suhaila’s grandmother. The horrors the other children escape from–earthquakes, floods, and more–are not written in a frightening way, and all the children (and adults) find safety and work together for peace. Soetoro-Ng writes hope for humankind–hope that we can embrace, help, and love each other.
Soetoro-Ng’s text flows beautifully, drawing the reader into the story and pulling us along to the end. Soetoro-Ng uses great details to enrich the story–sensory details such as the night deepening and the crickets growing louder; I also love the metaphors, such as Suhaila tossing herself out of bed like a tumbleweed. And the emotion behind the language, such as “Grandma Annie wrapped her arms round Suhaila’s chest, taking the shiver out of the child” warmed me, and worked beautifully.
Morales’ artwork is luscious, beautiful, and comforting, with texture that adds to the illustrations such as the brush strokes visibly laid over top the painting creating the sensation of wind. The large, rounded bodies and sweet, gentle faces, warm colors, and rounded edges add to the comfort of the story. These are rich illustrations, powerful to look at. Morales perfectly captures the feeling of the text, shows the story in a sensitive, sweet way, and enhances the story by adding details that weren’t in the text, such as flowers on the moon that bloom once Suhaila reaches her grandmother. Each spread is art that I’d gladly have on my wall.
Both the text and the illustrations are beautiful, complimenting each other perfectly. Ladder to the Moon is a rich, full, hopeful story–one to dream on, one to share. Highly recommended.
Book source: review copy from publisher