Title: Long Night Moon
Author/Illustrator: Cynthia Rylant/ Mark Siegel
Publisher/Date: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/ 2004
Genre/Audience: Nonfiction/Ages 3-6
Themes: Native American culture, moon, poetry, months
Opening: "Long ago Native Americans gave names to the full moons they watched throughout the year. Each month had a moon. And each moon had its name...."
Synopsis: From School Library Journal: "Books this good come
along once in a blue moon. Rylant opens this radiant offering by explaining:
"Long ago Native Americans gave names to the full moons they watched throughout
the year. Each month had a moon. And each moon had a name.…" The two-page
illustration shows a woman holding a baby and looking at the nighttime sky.
Scenes of their house and the surrounding countryside accompany the 12 poems
that follow, beginning with January and tracing the cycle of the year. To read
the text is to be bathed in the magic of moonlight, magic extended by Siegel's
luminous charcoal, pencil, and pastel landscapes. February's picture is stark
and cold; a solitary stag, his breath a white cloud, stands by an
icicle-shrouded bear den. The stag appears again in March as does the den
without the icicles, and the painting glows with green tones: "a Sap Moon
rises/over/melting ponds,/sleepy bears,/small green trees./It tells a
promise/and a hope." The woman and the now-older child reappear at the end and
again gaze at the orb from their garden gazebo: "And in December/the Long Night
Moon waits/and waits/and waits/for morning./This/is the faithful moon./This one
is your friend." Savor this thoughtful book, and pair it with Jane Yolen's
Owl Moon (Philomel, 1987) for a lyrical bedtime read-aloud."–Kathleen
Whalin, York Public Library, ME
Why I Love This Book:
Cynthia Rylant is brilliant and so versatile. She can write poetry, picture books, early readers, middle grade novels, memoir, nonfiction....I'm sure I've left something out. This poetic, nonfiction book is a favorite. Short, free-verse poems paint a picture of each full moon during the year, each with its own personality. This book came to mind this week because of the enormous full moon we were graced with. It is May. It was the "Flower Moon" and it was "Happy to be here."
Choose your birth month. Name the moon, just as the Native Americans did, and write a poem about it.
Study moon phases.
Study Native American traditions. Compare them to your own traditions. How are they related to the calendar year?
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