Friday, May 11, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday

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?

For more links to Perfect Picture Books, a collection of bloggers who contribute at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site, click here.


  1. Laura, this book sounds SO beautiful! I'm going to have to read it immediately! And we don't have anything on our list yet that tells about the Native American months, so this is a wonderful addition! Thank you!

  2. What beautiful cover art! Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorites. Why have I not seen this one yet? Can't wait to get my hands on it. Thanks!

  3. Beautiful cover -- I'd choose it because I love books about moons. Then add Native American folklore and you have a winner. Also like Cynthia Rylant. Great activities! (Entered a comment before, but it didn't show -- hope I haven't posted twice.) I celebrated my birthday one day short of the Full Moon of Taurus and the Weesak Festival in the Himalayans. I want this book!

  4. I started reading and immediately thought of the "Super Moon" as well. This is a wonderful recommendation for this week.

  5. What a lovely book, and I ADORE picture books about the moon. Will definitely add this one to my list!

  6. Great activities to go with this book. Thanks for the recommendation.

  7. This book looks just beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  8. The cover alone, invites you to settle down in a comfy chair with a cup of tea and indulge in this book. thanks for sharing it

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  9. Nice choice. I love the cover and the story sounds delightful. It's going on my list.