Perfect Picture Book Friday: I Took the Moon for a Walk

I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis, Alison Jay

Like most little girls, I thought my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. I loved her cat-eye glasses and how her toes turned out when she click-clacked along in her heels, and I tried to imitate that in my white patent leathers. But I especially remember her fingernails, and admired how she’d take out her manicure kit and file them into perfect white crescents.

And in my little-girl imagination, I began to see those fingernails in the sky every time there was a crescent moon. I don’t know when I first made that connection, but the image has stuck with me my entire life, never failing to bring the words “There’s Mom’s fingernail” to my mind. Those crescent moons will always be my mother.

I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis, Alison Jay
I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis, Alison Jay

I suppose every child has a fascination with the moon at some point. Moon and luna were among the first words my little boys understood, and they delighted in pointing to the sky and “telling” us everything they knew about the lovely luna. Now, a year later, they are even more obsessed with the moon, pointing and squealing every time they see a picture or the real thing.

Now the moon has brought me a new gift, for however long it lasts. After lamenting the fact that my toddlers don’t let me read to them, I cast around for something, anything, that might interest them. But it was my son L himself who told me what he liked: last week, he saw I Took the Moon for a Walk sitting on my desk, and started pointing and reaching and squealing and couldn’t get at that book fast enough.

Amazingly, my little guys sat patiently, one on each knee in the circle of my arms, and let me show the book to them. They even let me turn the pages in the correct order and read some of the verse. They were so proud to recognize the fox and cow and sheep and, of course, the moon. And they’ve been asking for it every night.

The moon has magical powers, indeed.

So here’s a soft nighttime howl to I Took the Moon for a Walk, a book as warm and gentle as a mother’s embrace.

[heading style=”1″]The Goods[/heading]

I Took the Moon for a Walk

I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay
I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay

Written by: Carolyn Curtis
Illustrated by:  Alison Jay
Publisher: Barefoot Books (March 2004)
Genre: Picture Book/Fiction
Ages: 4+
Themes/Topics: Moon, Fear of the Dark, Nighttime Plants and Animals, Bedtime

Opening and Brief Synopsis:

I took the Moon for a walk last night.
It followed behind like a still summer kite
Though there wasn’t a string or a tail in sight 
when I took the Moon for a walk. 

Over the hills, through the trees, and past the church, a young boy takes a magical nighttime stroll with the Moon, a tremulous fellow with spindly arms and legs and a pair of red shoes. Following their progress are many silent companions, such as owl and fox and sheep and cows and priest and the man on the bicycle. As the hour grows later, the moon and the boy and all their company make their way home.

Then as we turned back, the Moon kept me in sight.
It followed me home and stayed there all night,
And thanked me by sharing its sweet sleepy light
when I took the Moon for a walk. 

Links to Resources:

  • The book includes two informational pages in the back, also illustrated by Alison Jay. “The Mysterious Moon” shows the moon in all its phases and includes various scientific and cultural facts; “The World at Night” depicts some of the nocturnal creatures and plants featured in the story, along with interesting tidbits of information.
  • Scholastic offers several creative ideas, including exploring the illustrations, creating a visual text, playing with rhyme, telling the moon’s story through drama, and having a moon festival.

Why I Like This Book: This is one of those books in which the text and illustration are so perfectly matched that it’s nothing short of magical. Carolyn’s text is lyrical and soothing, with each verse ending in the same comforting phrase “when I took the Moon for a walk.” The aaab rhyme scheme and masterful writing lend a subtle lilt that keeps the reader gliding through the pages.

I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay - spread2
I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay










The incredible “crackled” illustrations add just the right touch of nostalgia, but that’s just the beginning of their genius. Alison has created a continuous landscape that stretches over the course of the book, with highlighted elements on one page receding into the background on the next, so the reader experiences the walk just as the boy does.

I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay - spread
I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay

Add to that the countless recurring details in each spread (people and their dogs, various animals, a man on a bike, a playground, bridges and buildings) and some subtle events (the Moon loses his shoe at one point…where does he get it back?), and you’ve got a short book with a long, engaging bedtime read.

It’s a quiet book, and that’s a good thing.

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Perfect Picture Book Fridays is a shared weekly event started by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill. You can find the entire list of recommended picture books on the Perfect Picture Books page on her blog.

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  1. It’s sounds almost like a 3D cinematic experience, Renée. That stanzas you shared are delightful and gently melodic! Thanks for sharing about your Mum and her finger nails. It seems like your family is very close! 🙂

  2. Thank you for the review of this beautiful book. I loved seeing all the parts you shared, and I know just the toddler who will like it. You and your son might also like Eric Carle’s Papa, Get The Moon For Me, also loved by my granddaughter.

    1. @ Joanna – Yes, I guess it is rather cinematic, now that you mention it. It’s so lovely!

      @ Linda – Thanks for the suggestion – now I’m looking for all the moon books I can find. 🙂

  3. Hi Renee! I loved your description of your two little boys not wanting to sit still for stories. It made me laugh. I have two grown sons now and I have to say that little boys rock! My little guys were like that too, but for the record, they’re both now avid readers 🙂

    It sounds like the most beautiful book. It’s going on my list of must-haves. Thanks for following my blog. I’m on my way to check out your pinterest board. Actually, it will have to wait a wee bit. I just looked at the clock … Have to get ready for school 🙂 Have a good one!!


    1. @ Robyn – You’re welcome! It is a musical book, best read in low light with the covers pulled up tight.

      @ Barbara – Oh, good to know your boys turned out all right, haha! Fingers crossed…

  4. Renee, a simply beautiful book. It is so lyrical and lullying — such a perfect book for bedtime. Your selection also sounds like a song. I loved the story you shared about your mother and how you think of her when there is a crescent moon — what a lovely memory!

    1. @ Pat – I was surprised how my boys calmed down once I opened this book. I think it just may be magic after all. And yes, I’m so glad to have a memory like that of my Mom!

      @ Penny – Aren’t they lovely? One is better than the next.

  5. Thanks for sharing this book. I had seen the cover before while browsing the Barefoot store (i do love their books) but must admit it never caught my eye. Until now. Your write-up has a beautiful, warm quality to it, just as the book you describe. I will be adding this book to my TBR list.

    My girls are fascinated with the moon as well. Its funny they actually fight about who’s side of the car the moon is on as we drive home.

  6. This book looks wonderful.
    And I’m very happy your little boys enjoyed it and let you read it to them. Just goes to show that they may very well request readings all the time. I wanted to read to my daughter when she was so tiny (I’m embarrassed now to say how old!).
    She really enjoyed a board book when she was really young that was wordless and had tons of everyday objects on each page–not a Caldecott winner–but we pointed to objects, named them and talked about them. Since I raised her bilingual, her father was able to do the same thing with her in French when it was “his turn” to “read” to her. They grow into books. Just keep doing what you’re doing!
    Thanks for sharing this book, Renee. It’s on my wishlist.

    1. We’re doing the same thing here, Dana! We have some of those object books, and I go through them in English, then my husband in Italian. The boys already understand whatever we say in both languages (maybe with a slight leaning toward Italian, which they hear more). It’s so neat to watch both languages forming, isn’t it? 🙂

  7. This book looks nothing short of lovely. How is it that I haven’t heard of it? It is moving right to the top of my “to read,” list.

    I can remember my boys loving the moon too. Goodnight Moon is still a favorite of my little one. 🙂

  8. Hi Renee,
    This looks like a beautiful book! I love the Illustrator’s style. And the story sounds delightful. I will add this to the list of must reads. Thanks for adding it to PPBF!

    1. @ Loni – You should definitely take a look at this one, Loni!

      @ Eric – Thank you for cheering me on, Eric! Just like you said…they picked the book themselves, then sat and let me read it to them. Progress!

  9. Thank you for this selection and the personal story that goes with it. What a special memory you have of your mother and her nails when you see the crescent moon. Will you share that with your boys when they’re old enough?

  10. Great lead-in about the moon and your mother’s fingernails! My now 2-year old also wasn’t interested in reading until the last 6 months or so. Now, he will run to his room and “read” on his own.

    I love your book selection — the illustrations look amazing and I love the idea of taking the moon for a walk. I will have to check this book out. Thanks for the recommendation!

    1. It’s always good to hear other people’s reading experiences, Margaret. Now I know I’m not alone, haha! My boys have always liked looking at books, it’s just the actual reading aloud that doesn’t seem to thrill them. But okay…when they’re ready, they’re ready!

  11. What a beautiful book and lovely review. I even had another look at the pictures when you mentioned about how we travel along with him as he takes his walk…. loved it and because of the beautiful clean pictures one can imagine this on a screen. Thanks Renee.

    1. @ Diane – Yes, in the two pics in the post, you see his house with the gate up close in the first one, then in the next you see the house and gate way in the background. It goes on and on like that, which I think is ingenious.

      @Jackie – Yup, that’s why the mysterious moon appears in so much art!

      @ Amy – You’re welcome! It really is beautiful. I find something new every night.

  12. Renee…thank you for sharing such a personal memory, as well as such an awesome book!
    My husband is always asking me what i want for various special occasions…and I always tell him I don’t need anything…but now I do…this book and several others that the PPBF group have reviewed today. 🙂
    I love finding children’s books that have a soothing quality to them.

    1. @ Vivian – Books have ALWAYS been #1 on my gift list, but now I’m so obsessed with the beauty of PBs that I just want more, more, more!

      @ Lori – I love me some quiet books, too! 🙂

  13. I think the illustrations are AWESOME! I liked the title right away when I saw it on Ms. Hill’s site “I took the Moon for a Walk” – it just sounds nice!

    1. @ Loni – Thank you so much, Loni! I replied on your blog. 🙂

      @ Heather – I own the book, so I get to experience the memory every night!

      @ Erik – I bought it just because of the title – so beautiful and poetic!

  14. Renee, thanks to your review, I am truly in love with this book-I must have it! I really enjoyed reading about your experience as a little girl-I have similar memories of my mom. It sounds like this book may contain a bit of magic! 🙂

  15. Sorry to be the last to arrive for this wonderful book! I love the idea of the illustrations being continuous! And having lots of details to look for from page to page – that is always so engaging for pre-readers! The text sounds so lyrical and soothing. The book brings to mind some other moon favorites – Harold and The Purple Crayon, and Kevin Henkes book Kitten’s First Full Moon which mow I might have to do next week 🙂 Thanks for adding this wonderful book to our list!

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