Author: Stephen Wunderli
Illustrator: Maria Luisa Di Gravio
Ages: 5 and Up
May this time truly mark a turning point where the toxic masculinity of “boys don’t cry,” is put to the moon.
“We want to have a word with you!” Max shouts at the moon. “Face-to-face, man-to-Man in the Moon. We need you to stay where you are!”
Max and Ely are two little boys working hard to get the moon to stay in place. They send a rocket up to try to lasso it, they even try to scold it into submission. Each night the moon comes and goes, bringing closer the day that Ely must leave for the hospital.
For all their efforts, the fateful day arrives and Max and Ely share an emotional goodbye.
“You want me to be afraid for you so you don’t have to, asks Max?”
But Max has not given up on his plans with the moon. Now, however, he is trying to speed it up. He tries to scare the moon into submission. It doesn’t work. Finally he tries to reason with the moon.
“No more scaring. Let’s be friends. Can you see Ely from up there?…Will you make sure he comes home?”
When Ely comes home, they build a new rocket. This time, when they blast off, Ely stays on the moon. Max returns tearfully sending a message to the moon:
“Dear moon, / I’ll be watching you.”
Wonderli masterfully spins this story, not revealing too much that might alarm younger children, but also allowing for the bursting compassion and love these two boys quite obviously share. The text of the book only hints at the seriousness of Ely’s illness, till almost the very end.
The illustrations reveal a lot more of the plot along the way. Ely is portrayed as being in a wheelchair from the beginning, he comes home hairless and in the latter pages of the book he appears weak. Max’ sadness is also vividly portrayed and not downplayed in any way.
It breaks my heart that this book needed to be written. I’m glad it was done so well. I also can not help but note that this book features two boys who have been allowed to sit so deeply in their emotional selves. May this time truly mark a turning point where the toxic masculinity of “boys don’t cry,” is put to the moon. This book is all at once tender, sad, poignant, and very necessary.
I recommend this book be read with an adult, especially if the child reading it is dealing with a death or imminent death of a loved one. Have tissues at hand.
More books for this Age Group can be found here.
My thanks to Familius Publishing for providing a Review Copy of this book. All opinions provided herein are my own.
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