Heller, Janet Ruth. How the Moon Regained Her Shape. Illustrated by Ben Hodson. Book Review

Click here to buy How the Moon Regained Her Shape

What a delight it was to receive a copy of this book for review. The moment I unwrapped the package, I knew it was going to be something exceptional. The blend of a black starry sky with First Nations styled illustrations, possibly Navajo, draw the eye to the bright, detailed cover.

The story begins, “Once the moon was round and full, proud of her gentle light.” When she momentarily blocks the sun she is told, “You ugly scarecrow! People on earth need me to grow their crops. But no one needs you. Get out of my way!” This remark devastates the moon who shrinks down to nothing. A passing comet advises her to go to the mountain where Round Arms lives. Round Arms brings the moon to see an artist, a rabbit family, and dancing women who all express their love for the moon. She regains her sense of worth, and with that the moon expands back to her fullness.

This lovely story is not only a Native American’s legend explaining the phases of the moon, but it is also a testament to the damage cruel remarks may inflict upon another. It shows how the support of friends can make a huge difference to the self-esteem of a bully victim.

Following the story, there are sections on moon observations, Native American’s seasonal names for each full moon, and an excellent page of advice on how to deal with bullies.

There are just enough words on each page to supplement the beautiful illustrations. The story is told simply and effectively. The illustrations are layered, possibly using collage, pastel, and pen. The illustrator, Been Hodgson, won the 2004 Glass Slipper Award from the Society of Children’s Book writers. This book was a finalist for the 2006 Society of Illustrators Original Art. It is easy to see why. He perfectly captures the nastiness of the sun and the melancholy of the moon. The bold colors of the framed pages are reflected in both the clothing of the characters and the background of the Badlands. His work is innovative and vivid.

This book would make a beautiful gift for a child struggling with bullying. As well it would have a place in the classroom in values, science, and Native Americans curriculum. The vocabulary could be understood easily by a primary class (K-3), but the content is also relevant to junior grades (4-6). An exceptional book that I strongly recommend.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


3 thoughts on “Heller, Janet Ruth. How the Moon Regained Her Shape. Illustrated by Ben Hodson. Book Review

  1. The cover IS beautiful, Bonnie. I’ve always been drawn to black backgrounds ’cause it makes all the vibrant colors pop 🙂 Sounds like a wonderful book! Thanks for the review 😀


  2. Dear Bonnie Ferrante,

    Thank you so much for reviewing my award-winning book about bullying, How the Moon Regained Her Shape. I was bullied as a child, and I wrote this story to help other children to deal with bullying. Ben Hodson, the illustrator, won the gold medal in the Benjamin Franklin Award for picture books in 2007 for his artwork on How the Moon Regained Her Shape.

    I really appreciate your time and effort and your generosity to other writers. Best wishes for the spring!

    Janet Ruth Heller, author
    Author of three poetry books, a scholarly book, and the award-winning book for kids about bullying, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Arbordale, hardback–2006, paperback–2007, e-book, audio, and Spanish edition–2008, 3rd paperback edition and iPad app–2012)
    Website is http://www.redroom.com/author/janet-ruth-heller


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