by Etienne Delessert
A young stagehand works in a mysterious theater where he readies the world for the nightly rise of the Moon. He describes his duties, which include watering the stars, sprinkling star powder on the dolls, playing tricky games with the rats, and feeding hungry night monsters, all before a gnomelike little old man lifts the Moon above a proscenium stage. The surreal, glassy-eyed, knob-nosed creatures with blocky bodies dominate every scene. Their appearance and the illustrations' crowded composition are reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch's art. The text, which is occasionally punctuated with rebuslike icons, features short declarative sentences that will be manageable for beginning readers. Despite the slightly eerie feel, the book's subdued color palette and nighttime theme make this a possible choice for bedtime.
Lin Yi's Lantern: A Moon Festival Tale
by Brenda Williams, illustrated by Benjamin Lacombe
A Chinese boy heads to market to shop for items for the upcoming Moon Festival. His mother warns him that if he wishes to purchase the red rabbit lantern that he's longed for, he must bargain carefully. Lin Yi repeats the shopping list faithfully to himself: "moon cakes, star fruit, rice, yams and...and I mustn't forget the peanuts for Uncle Hui." Walking through the busy marketplace, he resists toffee apples, fragrant rice, and a dough figure, delaying his gratification in hopes of attaining the lantern. Despite his best efforts, however, toward the end of his trip he realizes that he won't be able to afford both peanuts and the lantern. His selflessness in choosing the peanuts is rewarded when his uncle arrives with a gift—a red rabbit lantern. Gouache illustrations in mostly red, blue, and purple tones are highlighted with numerous origami paper designs. Back matter has notes about the traditional legend of the moon fairy, instructions for making a Chinese lantern, and a discussion of market life in China. This book sheds light on a unique cultural tradition.
I received free copies of these books from the publisher.