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Uplifting Picture Books That Don't Preach
The Mole Sisters and the Moonlit Night
The Mole Sisters and the Moonlit Night
written and illustrated by Roslyn Schwartz
Annick Press,(September 2001)
The world is a beautiful place
and anything can happen
on a beautiful moonlit night.
"La bella luna," sang the mole sisters in Italian,
and gazed up at the night sky.
--The Mole Sisters and the Moonlit Night, by Roslyn Schwartz, p. 1-5.
If you've never picked up a Mole Sisters book before, you're missing out on a treat. Soft pastel-like illustrations combined with a playful wisdom are the hallmarks of the Mole Sisters books by Roslyn Schwartz. The Mole Sisters and the Moonlit Night is no exception.
The two mole sisters stand staring up at the moonlit sky, remarking that the world is a beautiful place, and anything can happen on a moonlit night. They sing together, glimpse a shooting star and make a wish, take a trip to the moon, and then come back to earth, glad again that the world is such a beautiful place.
Schwartz's text is simple and concise, leaving the illustrations to fill in the blanks and tell the rest of the story. This encourages the reader to engage in the story, and understand just what the mole sisters are feeling and why. Short or partial sentences containing an idea, scene, or sound appear on each page, moving the story forward quickly, though readers will want to slow down the turning of pages to pore over the beautiful illustrations. At times the text relies a little too heavily on the illustrations to tell the story, leaving the feeling of a slight gap, but the story works.
Schwartz's text contains a nice mixture of simple story that young children can follow, tidbits for adults (such as them singing "La bella luna"--the beautiful moon--on a moonlit night), and bits of wisdom as they take in the natural world around them and see that the world is beautiful and safe. The story also encourages imagination and play, as the sisters ride in a leaf boat, and imagine that they travel to the moon and back.
The Mole Sisters and the Moonlit Night is full of hope, imagination, and the suggestion that the world really is beautiful. The book is a soothing story, good for bedtime, calming down a child, or any time.
Schwartz's colored-pencil illustrations are soft and rich, the texture showing through in a pleasing way. The illustrations build on the text and show so much of the story that the text does not--the way the mole float down a pond in a leaf, press each others' snouts to make a wish, and walk back home, the full moon in their view. The illustrations make good use of light and shadow, and of perspective.
Schwartz layers and blends colors, providing a richness and depth to the illustrations. The illustrations feel light and happy, with a lot of white space around each illustration, and bright, light colors in most, such as their light green leaf boat, lit up and lightened by the yellow light of the moon, and pinks, purples, and blues blending into the darker colors of the night sky, with stars popping through the darkest areas. Colors are often echoed in the illustrations, providing visual unity--the greens and yellows of the leaf boat is echoed in the pole and water, and in the reeds about them, and blues are found in the sky, water, and some parts of the leaf boat.
The mole sisters walk upright, like humans do, making it easy to identify with them, and their facial expressions show emotion well. I love the illustrations in The Mole Sisters and the Moonlit Night--I just wish they were a little larger, and took up more space on the page. It would be lovely to sometimes have full-bleed illustrations.
The Mole Sisters books are small books, easy to carry around in a pack or purse for a quick read, and fun to hold. The Mole Sisters and the Moonlit Night is a book that affirms that the world is a good, safe place. It's an uplifting, affirming for readers of all ages. Recommended!
-Added May 14, 2008
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