What catches your attention immediately is the unusual illustration on the front cover of this book. A large moon is in the background. A woman and a boy in their nightclothes, wearing coats and long unmanageable scarves, hold hands in a line. They are followed by a cat carrying a rat on its tail. The scene is framed by two trees on each side. The entire picture is awash with chaotic watercolor. Once you start reading, you realize Esther Connon’s unusual illustrative style is eminently suitable to the text.
It begins, “Long ago in a far-off land,/ a cat, a rat, a boy and his gran/ lived in a small round house/ on the far side of the hill.”
As you scan the book, you discover many round things besides the house such as the curled up cat, the wash basin, the dish of cream, the teapot, the ends of the arms of the chair, the chickens curled in their nest, and so forth. It is unlikely that younger children will catch on to this but once you have read the book a couple of times, point it out to them. They may surprise you with answers you hadn’t considered.
Sandra Horn tells the story of a boy in his Gran working all day and asleep before the moon rises. One day they succumb to cravings. The cat wants a dish of cream. The rat wants a whole blue cheese. Gran wants a pillow for her “poor old nod”. A silver penny, to buy a big red ball, is the boy’s desire. They have a disappointing day and, on the way home from the market, spot the moon in the sky. Each believe it is what they desire. By piling one atop the other, they try to reach it but collapse in pain. Then they try to catch the moon’s reflection in the pond, but fail. When they return home, a moonbeam dances on the step and there they find a bright silver penny, a soft silken pillow, a whole blue cheese, and a big round dish of cream.
This is an imaginative, unique picture book. I love how it makes adults and children see and think in different ways. Both the words and visuals are a step off the path from typical children’s picture books. I found it intriguing, absorbing, and stimulating.
A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.
The author will be interviewed on this blog, Wednesday December 21, 2016.