Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Music for Mr. Moon, written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Neal Porter Books, Holiday House, Penguin Random House. 2019. $24.99 ages 5 and up
wanted to play her cello
When Harriet was alone
she would change her room
into a little house with a
kitchen table, a chair, a
teacup, and a fireplace."
And when everything was
quiet and still she would
draw her bow, and - "
Harriet Henry is a skilled cellist whose parents recognize her talent. They share their hope that she will play with a large orchestra one day. They think it will make her happy. Harriet is not convinced.
"Harriet imagined crowds of people all dressed up like penguins. Her hands became sweaty and her face became hot. "No," she said with a sigh, "I don't think that will make me happy."
The tone for our story is set. Harriet is happier playing her cello for herself. She transforms her room for those solitary performances. A hooting owl outside her window does not please her. When it continues its hooting, she tosses her teacup out the window and scares it away. While regretting her action, something incredible happens. Her room fills with smoke from the fireplace.
Harriet rushes outside to find that the moon is stuck in her chimney. The tossed teacup knocked the moon from the sky. Oh, dear! Harriet's quick thinking soon has the moon unstuck and ready for a conversation. Harriet has some questions about what it is like so high in the sky. Mr. Moon is not completely content, and dreams of floating on a lake - only once. Determined to make amends, Harriet enlists the help of friends to make Moon's wish come true.
When it is time for Moon to return to the quiet of the sky, Harriet helps once again. Then, stays to play, but only for the Moon, who promises to close its eyes and not cheer.
Erin Stead's artwork 'was made with mono printed oil inks, colored pencils and graphite'. Her images are as quiet as Harriet is. Filled with soft light, expressive characters and harmony, they perfectly match this story told with such grace and imagination.