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Monday, 7 March 2011

A Taste of the Moon. To us, it tastes of cheese and broccoli

A Taste of the Moon by Michael Grejniec. Kalandraka, 2010. 
Original title in German: Wie schmeckt der Mond?, Bohem Press, 1993.
Our edition: ¿A qué sabe la luna? (Kalandraka Editora, 1999), translated by Carmen Barreiro. 

Click on the image to listen to the way we read A Taste of the Moon (in Spanish).

(This review refers to the Spanish edition)
A Taste of the Moon is a fable about co-operation, the advantages of being insignificant in size and appearance, and perspective, with a dash of humour provided by a playful moon. We like it!

The story
The animals had long wanted to find out what the moon tasted like. The would look up at the sky wistfully, stretching out as far as they could, but none of them could reach it. 

One day the tortoise decided to climb the tallest mountain, determined to reach the moon. Up there, the moon was indeed closer, but still a little too far to reach. So the tortoise called the elephant, who climbed up on top of the tortoise to see whether they could touch it. The moon took it as a game and decided to move away a little, and the elephant could not reach either. So they started calling all the other animals, one by one, until forming an unlikely tower with the tortoise at the base, followed by the elephant, the giraffe, the zebra, the lion, the fox, the monkey... and each time the moon saw another animal arrive, it moved away just a little bit more to stop them from reaching.

Finally, the monkey, who was so close he could smell the moon, called the mouse. When the moon saw the mouse she said to herself 'Such a small animal will never reach me'. And she stayed where she was. So the mouse climbed up the tower of animals and -at last!- managed to tear off a small piece of the moon. It then passed down a piece of the moon to each of the other animals below. And what did it taste of? It tasted of what each of them liked best. After their formidable feat, the animals huddled together and went to sleep.  

The fable ends with a fish looking at the moon in the water, flip-turning our perspective in the form more of an epilogue than a moral. 

The illustrations
The illustrations made with watercolour on papier maché create a fantastic illusion of three dimensions and  a texture that seems almost edible. 

We really like both the scenes of the animals and the moon against the black background of night and the illustrations of the animals arriving on the white background of the text page. 

These are the rather charming characters of A Taste of the Moon:

The tortoise, who bears the weight,
not of the world like in the Hindu myth,
but of a rather impressive tower.

The elephant

The giraffe

The zebra

The lion. We love this lion!

The fox

The monkey
And our great little hero, the mouse. 

Here are the base of the tower and the finished tower: 

And, at last, the bite:

Reading it out loud: 

Like with many traditional tales and stories, A Taste of the Moon has a repetitive, cumulative structure that is perfect for captivating small ears.  

We always call out for each animal to come: 'Elephaaant! Elephaaant!', Giraaaaaffe! Giraaaaffe' which encourages our son to take part in the narration. He loves calling out for them all!

When, at long last, the animals are savouring the pieces of moon, tasting of whatever they like best, we explain to our son that for him the moon would taste of cheese and broccoli, which are the two things that he never, ever, ever turns down.

There are also a couple of things we change that apply only to the Spanish version which I don't see the point of going into here. (If interested and you read Spanish, you can read it here.)

Other things we like about it
One thing I particularly like about A Taste of the Moon is that instead of ending with a facile moral, it closes with a nice question about how perspective affects our view of the world and the way we interact with it.

I think this one is going to be a book with a long shelf life.  

(c) of all illustrations in this post, Michael Grejniec, 1993. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh boy, this looks like a brilliant addition to our upcoming "Moon Books" theme on Twitter and our blog! Superb!