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

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

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.

The Goods

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.

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.