Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Wolf Within: Moon by Alison Oliver

Moon is a very busy girl. Her daily to-do list is daunting.

  • homework
  • clean my room
  • soccer practice
  • trumpet lesson
  • math tutor
  • stuff and more stuff
  • blah, blah, blah

Moon is dutiful and does it all. But she can't help wishing she didn't have to. She wonders what it would be like to leave all that behind.

One night she wanders out into the garden and in awe watches a shooting star. The star is a catalyst that sends her into the woods, barefoot, in search of something, something else stirring in the dark.

Paw prints! Wild.

Following the prints she finds a friendly gray wolf who takes her up upon his back and flies into the Great Forest, where in a clearing Moon is greeted by the whole pack.

She asked them to show her the wolfy ways.

Moon learns to pounce and play, and how to howl at the moon. And especially she learns the skill of being still and listening. Wearing a crown of flowers, Moon feels happy in the wild and at one with the forest. But the enchantment ends suddenly, as far away she hears a different sort of howl--her mother, looking for her.

So Moon goes back, back to her home and back to school the next day, but she's not the same. She still wears her emblematic garland and remembers the peace of being wild and wolfy, in Alison Oliver's forthcoming Moon (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2018), and she secretly shares her experience with her friends.

The English poet William Wordsworth said it well long ago:

"The world is too much with us, late and soon.
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.
Little we see in nature that is ours."

And author-illustrator Alison Oliver has the same advice--"Get out and get under the moon!" as she sets a trancelike scene for her fantastical tale of wilding oneself. Moon is purple with long, black hair, and there is a spare, dreamy look to Oliver's evocative illustrations executed in a palette of green, purple, black, and white with childlike images. This parable of finding the wild within. in which both sides of our human nature--the maker who uses nature and the spirit who seeks relief in nature, is made clear in simple words and images in this moving picture book.

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