We were lucky enough to begin the new year with a glorious full moon, just high enough to shine above the clouds and to illuminate little one's room in time for bedtime stories. Unusually, we pulled up the blind that night and relied solely on the bright moon beams to read our favourite books: a hopeful start to 2018. Here's our list of the best story books to read by moonlight. The next full moon, a blue moon, is on 31st January, 2018.
- Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me, by Eric Carle (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1999). If there was a prize for the most doting father, it would go to this earnest chap, who manages to climb the tallest ladder on top of the tallest mountain and bring down the mighty moon for his daughter to play with. Beautiful, charming and heroic. Final thought: how wonderful to dance with the moon.
- Giraffes Can't Dance, by Giles Andreae (Orchard, 1999). To be honest, we read this most nights, but it took on a new meaning whilst reading under the lunar gaze. Gerald the giraffe is the unlikely hero who drags his two left hooves through a jungle full of talented but mean dancing animals, teasing him for his lack of technique or skill. Think Strictly Come Dancing in the Masaii Mara with a judging panel of only Craig Revel -Horwoods, in lion form. Poor Gerald. But all's not lost. A little cricket, with his handmade fiddle, gathers inspiration from the huge equatorial moon and helps Gerald back onto his dancing feet: "...he raised his head and looked up at the moon and stars above./ "We all can dance, " he said, "when we find music that we love." Final thought: Makes me think of toddler dancing- a pure reaction to music, or to a full moon party in Thailand where everybody definitely thought that they could dance, in their own unique and wonderful way. #bemoregerald #bemoretoddler
- I Took The Moon For A Walk, by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay (Barefoot books, Oxford, 2004). A lyrical poem with dreamy folk art- inspired illustrations. We follow the magical journey of a small child as he takes the Moon ("like a still summer kite") and the readers for a pre-bedtime walk, along a windy moon-illumined path, flanked by nocturnal creatures and moonlit strollers. A beautiful story to tire those little minds and to excite our imagination for endless dream-filled possibilities. Plus, there's a couple of extra pages with information about "The Mysterious Moon" and "The World at Night". Final thought: we love this book but it will do nothing for you if your little ones are going through that "I am not wearing a coat!" phase.
- Moonlight Bear, by Rosie Wellesley, (Pavilion, London, 2014) A new one for our collection, and already a favourite, 'Moonlight Bear' is a magical night-time adventure story with the brilliant little Eva and her cuddly Bear. At each full moon, Bear hopes she'll wake up to join him on a "full moon hullabaloo," filled with tree-climbing, star-gazing and a midnight trip to the playground (in Hackney, London). Tonight is the night that she finally wakes to follow him out the window. Final thought: all those days I spent teaching English in East London, but never realised what secret magical adventures the children were enjoying under the full moon.
- Whatever Next! by Jill Murphy (MacMillan, London, 1980). This classic picture book, which begins "Can I go to the Moon?" was probably read to you at bedtime. I was about to describe it as "timeless" but then I remembered the get up of solo-parent "Mrs Bear", illustrated as a Victorian housewife with an ankle-skimming, long-sleeved, high-necked dress, full length frilly apron and tartan house slippers. Clothing aside, this is a charming tale of a powerful imagination, finding a space ship in the cupboard under the stairs, a helmet from the draining board and an excellent choice of picnic foods to enjoy on the moon with fellow space traveller, Owl. Final thought: perfect if your little one is resisting the bath, this may well change his/her mind.
- Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown (Harper, New York, 1947). 1947?! This book is full of unsettling lines "Goodnight Nobody", nightmarish colour-schemes (bright red and leaf green walls) and the oddest collection of nursery items (telephone, two clocks, a mouse, kittens...) yet like two generations before, our little 19 myonth old always searches for this particular time-travelled book: a relic from another age. The meditative script always calms us down and preludes a long list of what we then wish goodnight to: a soporific incantation to begin our own bedtime routine. Final thought: either that little mouse is very lucky or the two little kittens are very lazy.
- Can't You Sleep, Little Bear? (Walker, 1988) If there was ever a story to show the natural need for a child to sleep with their parents, then this is it. Little Bear cannot settle to sleep and even the biggest lamp cannot quell his fears of the dark. Big Bear takes him on a trip to see the moon, but when he looks down, "he had gone to sleep, warm and safe in Big Bear's arms". Final thought: Big Bear is so calm and listens to the needs of his little cub; I love the final image of him reading his book in one paw and cradling Little Bear in the other. #bemoreBigBear
- On The Night You Were Born, by Nancy Tillman (Feiwel and Friends, New York, 2013) In our everyday subliminal thirst for acceptance and beauty, it's easy to forget that we are all completely unique and wonderful. When I read these words to my children, it's usually with tear-filled eyes and a shaky whispered voice: "On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder... the night wind whispered, "Life will never be the same." Because there has never been anyone like you... ever in the world." Final thought: this is a must-read book for all ages, especially when the swirling chaos of hectic schedules and crowded lives drowns your voice and makes you feel invisible, this book will comfort you for all those times "whenever you doubt just how special you are and you wonder who loves you, how much and how far...".
Time to pull up the blind, snuggle up for a story and bask in the light of the mo-oo-ooon.