Title: WHEN THE MOON COMES
Author: Paul Harbridge
Illustrator: Matt James
Publisher: tundra – Random House Canada
Review by Bob Lane, Siena Brandstaetter, and Holt Brandstaetter
Confession: I am no expert on children’s literature. As a father, grandfather, and great grandfather I have always bowed to the “expertise” of the audience. If the child is saying “read it again” you have a good indication that the book is a winner. Often books that I have chosen, thinking they would be great hits with the kids turned out to be boring, receiving no “read it again” requests.
This book is a “read it again” book based on some empirical research! Two greats thought it worthy of a “read it again” stamp of approval.
First, it tells a compelling story. A story set in Canada about snowy landscapes, frozen ponds, and kids playing hockey. Cover blurb: “The beaver flood has finally frozen – perfect ice, without a bump or a ripple. The kids in town wait impatiently for the right moment. Finally, it arrives: the full moon. They huff and puff through logging trails, farms, back roads and tamarack swamps, the powdery snow soaking pant legs and boots, till they see it – the perfect ice, waiting. And the game is on.”
Paul Harbridge is an award winning short story writer (he works as a speech-language pathologist for adults with developmental disabilities) and he knows how to tell a story. Matt James is a painter, illustrator and musician. His illustrations are, in a word, beautiful. They are perfect at complementing the words of the story and drawing the audience into that wonderful world of make-believe that children of all ages enjoy.
Together words and pictures tell the story of some small-town Canadian kids who have been waiting for the perfect time to hike out to the beaver flood, clear the snow, and start the game. The time has come! The full moon lights the night and off they go.
Simple, engaging, and worthy of the “read it again” stamp of approval.