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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Red Knit Cap Girl., written and illustrated by Naoko Stoop. Megan Tingley, Little Brown. Hachette. 2012. $17.50 ages 3 and up

"It seems the Moon is
just too far away.
Red Knit Cap Girl sighs.
After a while, Hedgehog
comes by.
"Owl knows everything,"
he says.
"Ask him how to reach
the Moon."

As people in Manitoba make a plan to get outside this evening, after 11 and before 4 am, I was reminded of this achingly beautiful tale of one small girl, her woodland friends, a wise owl, and an enduring wish. If we are lucky enough to have the sky clear following a gentle soaking rain, and if we head out beyond the city lights, we might experience a feast for the eyes and our souls...the annual Perseid meteor shower. I've seen it a few times, and astronomers say there could be up to 80 meteors in an hour. Gives you pause, doesn't it?

That is exactly what happens to Red Knit Cap Girl. She is a wonderer; she finds she does her best wondering in the forest:

"In the forest, there is time to wonder about everything.
Red Knit Cap Girl wonders about flowers, butterflies, leaves and clouds."
Her most ardent dream is to talk to the moon. She is willing to do what it takes to make that happen. She tries what she can think of on her own, and has no luck. When Hedgehog comes along, he has a suggestion; she should ask Owl who 'knows everything'. It's a thought!

A bit fearful of the darkness, and of Owl himself, RKCG finds her way to the oak tree and asks her question. Owl is helpful while leaving her to ponder the possibilities and see if she can come up with a solution. She can, and does. Enlisting the help of her woodland friends, she plans a party in honor of moon, hoping that will entice her to come closer and have a conversation. What she discovers is a
gentle and unforgettable lesson about the real beauty to be found in the quiet darkness of the natural world.

Using acrylic paints, ink and pencil on a background of plywood, Naoko Stoop creates a brilliantly beautiful backdrop for this gentle tale. The wood grain patterns are used to create green grass, sandy shores, brilliant golden horizons. The richness of the colors used allow the young girl, her white bunny companion and her forest friends to stand out and hold our attention. As the story ends, we are as content as Red Knit Cap Girl...glorying in the quiet of the night and listening to the moon whisper its secrets to a new friend. 

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