To celebrate Lunar New Year this upcoming Monday (8 February), I dusted off an older book that answers that age-old question, “Just how does the Moon get in the sky?”
Title: Grandfather Twilight
Written & Illustrated By: Barbara Berger
Philomel Books, 1984; reissued, Puffin Books, 1996
Suitable for Ages: 3-7
Themes/Topics: Moon; nature; origin myths; bedtime rituals
Opening: “Grandfather Twilight lives among the trees. When day is done, he closes his book, combs his beard, and puts on his jacket.”
Brief Synopsis: At day’s end, Grandfather Twilight strolls through the woods to deposit a pearly moon above the sea, and then returns to his home for bedtime.
Links to Resources: For younger children, a discussion of bedtime routines may lesson the battle that occurs in so many households (Grandfather Twilight blows out a candle to darken his room; how do we turn off the light, etc.). Older children could research the moon or create their own story of how it appears in the sky each night (or where it disappears when it isn’t visible in the sky). They also could try their hands at origin myths that explain other natural phenomena.
Why I Like this Book: This sparsely-worded, gorgeously-illustrated picture book is the perfect bedtime story for any child (or adult). Its slow pace and soft-hued illustrations (each gallery-worthy on its own) invite calm and engender feelings of security (a dog accompanies Grandfather on his journey, and that dog and a cat guard his sleep). Three completely wordless spreads plus seven other wordless pages evoke wonder and enchantment. Grandfather Twilight is the epitome of quiet books – a perfect antidote to our crazy world or an exhausting day with an over-stimulated toddler.
I also love the story, an origin myth, Barbara Berger shares in words and pictures. Her answer to how and why the moon appears is so reassuring, “Gently, he gives the pearl to the silence above the sea.” Somewhere, a grandfatherly gentleman cares; the moon appears. The reader and the young child listening know that all is as it should be.
Little wonder that Grandfather Twilight still resonates over 30 years after its first publication.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!
This is one of my very favorite bedtime books by Barbara Berger. Still have my daughter’s autographed hardback copy from the 1980s. When it first came out I gave it as a gift to everyone I knew. It is such a lovely story with beautiful illustrations and makes kids wonder. She also wrote WHEN THE SUN ROSE, THE DONKEY’S DREAM and my daughter’s favorite, GWINNA. They are all packed in a box for her kids.
Our kids must be similar ages: we also have a very dog-eared copy of Donkey’s Dream and Gwinna on the shelves.
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I remember this book – what a perfect pick for a lunar new year.
Been such a long time since I’ve read this so I’m glad to be reminded to read it again!