At the Height of the Moon

At the Height of the Moon
edited by Annette Roeder, Alison Baverstock and Matt Cunningham
Prestel

This book draws on artistic and literary traditions from all parts of the world, going back centuries to offer children a pre-bedtime experience that presents works of art alongside poems and short pieces of fiction including the occasional rather eerie folktale.
There are six thematic sections: Twilight, Dreamland, Moonlit Menagerie, Creepy Crawlies and Things that Go Bump in the Night, Minds Ablaze and, Midnight and Magic.

The editors have clearly cast their literary nets far and wide including recent poems from Simon Armitage whose To Do List is set opposite Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare which I think if I looked at it for too long, would give me a nightmare, James Carter’s The ReallyReallyReallyTrulyTrueTruth About … Teddy Bears which faces The Bear Family, for me, a much more alluring painting by Alexej von Jowlensky,

Benjamin Zephaniah’s Nature Trail, about wildlife in his garden, and Wendy Cope’s Huff set opposite Paul Klee’s The Goldfish. Then there are others that go way, way back: Sappho’s Fragment V1 ’Nightingale, herald of spring / With a voice of longing …’ ; Shakespeare is represented by lines from The Tempest beginning ‘Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises, / Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.’ It’s good to see Australian Judith Wright’s Rainforest sharing a page with that.

Two of my favourite poets that I first came across way back when I was at school, are here to my delight; there’s Robert Frost’s After Apple Picking, and Edward Thomas’ The Owl, beneath which is a well known anonymous owl poem.

(There are seven anon. pieces including a somewhat scary fairy tale from the early Mansi hunting people and another fairy tale from Siberia.)

Among the artists’ reproductions are works from Vincent van Gogh, Henri Rousseau’s Carnival Evening, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, Georgia O’Keefe’s A White Camelia and in the same story, Ladder to the Moon. Not all the art will be to any one reader’s taste, though I’m sure everyone will come across images both verbal and visual that they will treasure (although the entire selection is rather Eurocentric and could have been rather more inclusive): I came across some delights new to me including Linda Wolfsgruber’s A Lullaby for Bruno juxtaposed with an extract from Alice in Wonderland wherein the White Rabbit speaks.

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