illustrated by Vanessa Cabban
Mole thinks the moon is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen, and he wants it. But as Rabbit, Hedgehog and Squirrel remind him, some things are not as simple – or as close – as they look!
“Imaginative picture layout is the perfect counterpoint to the lyrical text – a must read for younger children.”
“Gentle, appealing illustrations and great read-aloud text”
Gwynneth Bailey, BOOKS FOR KEEPS
Winner of the
KIEKEBOEKPRIJS 2003 FOR BEST PRESCHOOL BOOK IN THE NETHERLANDS
As read by
Sally Phillips on the
CBEEBIES BEDTIME HOUR
Sometimes the idea for a story will spring into my mind fully-formed, but a lot of the time, I get an idea that doesn’t work the way I think it should and I put it to one side and come back to it later. The story for Bringing Down the Moon was like this.
The first idea I came up with was for a story called A Tower to the Moon about a man who tries to reach the moon by building an enormous rickety tower. The tower gets taller and taller until it eventually topples over. But I wasn’t happy with this story, the man’s behaviour didn’t feel right to me – why did he suddenly decide to do this? And why didn’t he know that the moon is too far away?
I kept coming back to the story every few months, but got no further with it until I hit upon the idea of making the main character a mole. A mole lives underground and might never have come across the moon before. And moles are short-sighted, so they might have difficulty judging distance. Then I remembered a picture of a mole that David Parkins had drawn as an incidental character for Tick-Tock – one of my favourite picture books. When I looked at this mole (who is determinedly riding a bicycle), my Mole’s character and the rest of the story began to fall into place.
I decided that a tower was a bit too sophisticated for a mole, so he would build a ladder instead. I also thought that he would try a more straightforward approach first. So, to start with, I had him jumping up, poking and throwing things at the moon.
Next, I introduced some other characters for Mole to interact with. I liked the idea of these characters being woken-up, one by one, as Mole reached higher and higher. So I chose a rabbit that slept below ground, a hedgehog that slept on the ground and a squirrel that slept high up in a tree.
I often discuss story ideas with my son, Max. When I first told him this story (he was two years old at the time) I kept stopping and asking him what he thought Mole might do next. When I got to the bit just before Mole was going to build the ladder, I asked Max what he thought Mole would do – and Max suggested that he should climb a tree. This struck me as a much better and straightforward solution, so I decided to use it in the story. This is why the book is dedicated “To Max, for the use of his tree.”
Walker Books bought the story and Vanessa Clarke, my editor there, set about turning it into a book. Finding the right illustrator was important. The story takes place at night, so a subtle use of light and colour was needed to bring Mole’s dark woodland world to life. Vanessa showed me some beautifully-toned illustrations that Vanessa Cabban had just done for another book and we quickly settled on her.
Like all good illustrators, Vanessa Cabban has enriched and extended the story. One of my favourite examples of this is her final end-paper illustration, which shows Mole staying up to admire the moon, long after his friends have gone back to bed.
“‘Hot diggety!’ exclaims plump Mole when he sees the full moon for what is apparently the first time. And indeed, the moon is at its most fetching, glowing in the cobalt-blue night sky ‘like a bright silver coin.’ Mole spends the balance of the book engaged in sweetly comic attempts to pry the moon out of the sky. His woodland pals try to warn him off the plan, each one pointing out, “It’s not as close as it looks.” But that doesn’t stop Mole from trying to leap for it, poke it, knock it down with acorns or simply grab it from a high tree branch. Finally, it dawns on him: the moon’s beauty lies in the fact that everyone can enjoy it (and besides, Mole now notes sagely, ‘It’s NOT as close as it looks!’).”
“There is no denying the sleep-inducing qualities of Emmett’s bedtime tale, so tender and delicate it could be the Platonic ideal for gentleness, while Cabban’s illustrations add the softness of a night warmed by moonlight … A sweet lesson in not getting what you want, yet getting what you need.”
“A magical story that lovingly emphasises the innocence of the young … Imaginative picture layout is the perfect counterpoint to the lyrical text – a must read for younger children.”
Elizabeth Keell, CAROUSEL
“Mole’s expressive ‘Hot-diggerty!’ is a memorable opening to this endearing book where text and pictures are admirably matched … There is a lot to talk about in this book with its gentle, appealing illustrations and great read-aloud text. It is just right for young children becoming more familiar with the world around them.”
Gwynneth Bailey, BOOKS FOR KEEPS
“Dark blue skies and a glowing moon exude peace and serenity in this sweet book. Preschoolers will sympathize with Mole’s attempts and sigh with contentment when they realize he has not ruined the treasure. The onomatopoeia scattered throughout makes this an appealing read-aloud. A pleasant, quiet offering.”
Anne Knickerbocker, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL