A Picture Book of the Week feature

Adam Rex
Disney-Hyperion, 2013

This is the picture book that inspired this little PBOW feature. I was blown away by this book, and I knew nothing about it before picking it up off the store shelves a couple of weeks ago. WOW. I mean, look at that cover!

The storyline is, on the face of it, rather simple: the moon follows a family home one night and “lands” in their backyard…where it stays. The next “morning,” there is no morning because the moon is still there. Everyone goes throughout their day wearily and sleepily. Finally, the little girl in whose backyard the moon is hanging out figures out how to get the moon back into the sky. Charming, right?

The illustrations are what take this book over the moon (ha ha ha). The moon, when it’s in the backyard and the viewer is near the backyard, is prominent and takes up the page. But even when it’s far away, our eyes are still drawn to it. On Seven Imp., Julie Danielson features this book along with some process art and commentary by Adam Rex himself: you must check it out because he shows in one spread how he drew lines to make sure he got the perspective right (the classroom scene with the moon seen through the window). I’d read the book before I saw her post, and seeing how he drew some of these scenes made me want to go right back and read the book again! A great picture book does that to you.

The palette is surprisingly rich for a book about night-time. There is a lot of dark used, obviously, as well as the lighter colors of the moon itself. But there is plenty of color in general throughout the book–very saturated colors (just my style). And I love the glow he gives to the moon. I’m not an artist by a long shot, and it always mystifies me when an artist captures that “glow” so well.

The movement in these illustrations is top notch: movement of people, movement of time, even the movement of a yawn! I’m not sure what term to put here. Sometimes, there is clear sequential art (such as in a comic book or graphic novel when separate images are all lined up together). Other times, the illustration shows the little girl (usually) in multiple places on the same page so that we see her activity. I love this technique when it works, and it most definitely works in Moonday.

The juxtaposition between text and illustrations and, simultaneously, between gravity and humor is expertly done. This is hard to explain without showing you spreads and their accompanying text, so you’ll just have to trust me here. The style of these illustrations is not comic-book style, casual sketch, or anything “silly,” and yet–the story is silly in a way. There are downright hilarious moments (such as when the tide rolls into the backyard or the dogs start howling). But Rex doesn’t tell us the dogs are howling. He shows us the dogs howling. The text is almost deadpan in its tone–while the illustrations are quietly making us chuckle.

I always note the endpapers (one of my things for a couple of years now), and these are jet black. Perfect. The whole book appears dark from a distance with the glowing exception of the moon.

So, have you seen this book yet? What did you think? Like it? No? Why?

Next PBOW is: The Spider and the Fly. This book is a slightly older title; it’s in libraries, but it’s also in bookstores right now because it’s sort of “seasonal” with Halloween coming up (although it’s not about Halloween).

Book from Barnes and Noble. Cover image from … can’t remember! EEP! I frequently get them from goodreads .