Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we dig into the subjects on readers’ minds and recommend some great recent books to continue chatting.
You don’t have to be a dedicated astronomer to have heard about this past weekend’s Super Flower Blood Moon, but it was certainly a recent highlight for watchers of the night sky. On Sunday night (May 15), those with a clear view could witness a lunar eclipse – but not just any lunar eclipse! It was a Flower Moon, i.e. May’s full moon, named after the flowers that blossom around this time in the Northern Hemisphere. And the eclipse made the moon turn temporarily red, for a Flower Blood Moon.
Eclipse scientists listed the May full moon as a so-called “supermoon,” meaning the full moon was at its perigee (the closest approach to Earth of the month in its orbit), so this Flower Blood Moon was much larger than usual – a Super Flower Blood Moon! With all this waxing poetic about our largest satellite, we figured we’d highlight some of our celestial books about the moon. It’s a theme that’s anything but a phase!
For a picture book that best mirrors the experience of the Super Flower Blood Moon, you’ll need to pick up The Darkest Dark by astronaut Chris Hadfield and the Fan Brothers – and make sure you get the Glow-in-the-Dark Cover Edition. No better book to read for a moon celebration than one written by a celebrated Canadian astronaut about his fear of the dark and how the moon landing changed how he felt. And the glow-in-the-dark cover is like looking at a Super Flower Blood Moon on paper!
To see how parents and children are connected to each other and to those heavenly bodies, read Rachel Montez Minor and Annie Won’s picture book The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars. If you felt connected to the universe while gazing up at that massive moon, this book will reinforce your feeling that we are all one, living together on our planet, connected under the sun, the moon, and the stars.
The full moon doesn’t just connect us; it can also provide the perfect lighting for a late-night game of hockey on a frozen pond! Don’t believe us? Read the finalist for multiple picture book awards, When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge and Matt James, in which kids wait for the perfect moon to hike into the woods and play hockey by its atmospheric light.
A perfect book for a May full moon, Moon Camp by Barry Gott, asks the important question: what if your summer camp was on the moon? Turns out it’s pretty fun (though I imagine not without its dangers!) and full of out-of-this-world humor.
Maybe you live in the city and the light pollution made for a less-than-satisfying glimpse of the Super Flower Blood Moon. Then City Moon by Rachael Cole and Bianca Gómez is for you. This is a nighttime story that follows a little boy and his mama as they walk around their neighborhood looking for the elusive moon, often hiding behind buildings and clouds – city stargazers know the struggle is real!
And maybe the Moon in Midnight and Moon by Kelly Cooper and Daniel Miyares is a horse (rather than a spherical chunk of rock), but he’s a blind horse struggling to find his place who befriends a girl with similar struggles to find her place. And Booklist felt, “the story’s gentle drama and quiet heroics of two characters with disabilities makes this a wonderful read that also affirms being introverted, nonverbal, or shy,” so it’s certainly worth a read.
But if your young readers want the real scoop on the moon, they might want to wait for The Book of the Moon by Dr. Sanyln Buxner (out this November!). It’s a perfect introduction for the youngest readers to the mysteries of the moon, and packed-to-the-craters with eye-popping photographs, illustrations, and diagrams.
If you’re thinking about the moon, you may be asking yourself the question that’s the title of our next book. Who Was the First Man on the Moon?: Neil Armstrong is a graphic novel by Montague Twins duo Nathan Page and Drew Shannon that chronicles the pioneering astronaut’s childhood and the fateful Apollo 11 mission that first brought human beings to the moon’s surface.
For a more encyclopedic guide to moon exploration, you can’t do better than the highly acclaimed and prize-winning John Rocco’s How We Got to the Moon. This is a beautifully illustrated, oversized guide to the people and technology of the moon landing, telling the step-by-step process and stories of the engineers, mathematicians, seamstresses, welders, and factory workers – as well as the astronauts – who made it all possible.
We also have no shortage of puzzles and mysteries set on the moon. For instance, Puzzlooies! Marooned on the Moon by Russell Ginns, Jonathan Maier and Andy Norman, lets readers help junior space cadet Cam, with only a pencil and a pile of puzzles, return to Earth from where he’s stranded on the lunar surface.
Allegedly, there are no lifeforms on the moon, but that won’t prevent us from recommending Newbery Medal-winning Tae Keller’s new book Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone. A book equally about friendship as it is the secrets of the universe (and the aliens that may live within), the book follows Mallory Moss and her strange relationship with new neighbour Jennifer Chan, an outcast at middle school who believes in aliens. When Jennifer goes missing, Mallory searches for answers and realizes the truth may be more inside herself than “out there.”
So, the moon in Mahogany L. Browne’s novel Vinyl Moon may be vinyl rather than Super Flower Blood variety (and it may be something of a metaphor), but any chance we get to recommend this story of moving past a history of domestic violence through the love of language (particularly of Black writers like James Baldwin and Zora Neale Hurston), music and community, we’ll take!
The moon and menstruation go hand-in-hand like the sun and skin cancer, which is where the provocative Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew comes in. Frankie, a lover of physics and astronomy, gets her period during her first sexual experience with a quiet heartthrob. But when the incident becomes a gruesome online meme, Frankie has to fight to reclaim her reputation from the online shame and stand up against a culture that says periods are dirty.
In Mermaid Moon by Susann Cokal, a teen mermaid, cursed to forget her past, apprentices to a witch and casts some magic to leave the sea in search of her “landish” mother. But what she finds on the Thirty-Seven Dark Islands is conflict, a people hungry for a miracle, and an obsessive Baroness.
And in a book that directly references the Flower Moon, the Young Readers’ Edition of Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann is an engrossing historical true crime narrative that looks at the mysterious murders of oil-rich members of the Osage Nation in 1920 Oklahoma by a newly formed FBI, and uncovers a conspiracy with reverberations throughout American history. (Bonus: it’s soon to be a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese!)