Thursday, March 15, 2018

By the light of the moon

Love you to the moon and back.
Harvest moon.
Dark side of the moon.
Moonlight Sonata.
Moon River.
Au clair de la lune.
Fly me to the moon.
Man in the moon.
Man on the moon.
Howl at the moon
It's only a paper moon.
The cow jumped over the moon.

In January, the moon was blue. And red.
And...there were two super moons.

New moon.


Bright, beautiful, beckoning. The earth's moon continues to captivate us, doesn't it?

So, too, this luminous picture book. Celebrating frosty moonlit nights, planning for something special, gathering together, playing a favourite sport on a patch of ice.

When the Moon Comes - written by Paul Harbridge, illustrated by Matt James, published by Tundra Books/Penguin Random House, and nominated for a 2017 Governor General's Award in the category of Young People's Literature (English) - Illustrated Books - is a timely read for these waning days of winter. (And an update...IBBY has nominated @MrMattCJames for the 2017 Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Picture Book Award.)

Winter has been lingering, procrastinating, actually, during this month of March with snow continuing to blanket much of Canada, nor'easters walloping the coast. There was the 'Beast from the East' coating Europe in deep snow along with frigid temperatures. Skates were laced and figure eights carved on the canals of Amsterdam. Apparently this hasn't happened in years.

And winter can be embraced, avoided, or watched from a window. The children in When the Moon Comes have chosen to welcome the season with their skates, sticks and a puck. They can barely wait.
This is a book both adult and child can appreciate. Nostalgic yet fresh, the words and pictures are radiant. Paul Harbridge crafts a rich tale of anticipation, adventure and shared experience set in the midst of nature, exploring the depth and vastness of sky, forest, frozen water, emotions. And those illustrations. Matt James knows his way around a northern landscape, too. In his unique style, he's created gorgeous images - rugged, naïf, dimensional. You're as good as there.

This story is told through the eyes of one child. The reader, and listener (as picture books are best read aloud) are in the moment all the way along with the narrator. 

And I love that these children are free to venture out on their own. One realizes that they've done this before. Understanding the outdoors with its extremes and boundaries, they're watching out for one another. Permitted to explore and enjoy. Home not far away. Knowing there's safety in numbers. Yet there's confidence in their stride.

At four, we are on the road. The sun is almost down. Already the cold has settled, biting our noses and cheeks. At Mark's house, we send him back for his scarf and hat.

And Arthur, who seems to be the leader, the one everyone trusts to make good decisions regarding this outing, is patient and practical, waiting for the security of solid ice and light from the moon. 

But it's so hard to wait. 

We have to wait for the moon. Then...finally. Tonight's the night.

He also knows when the game is done and it's time to go home...

We skate puffing to the fire, 
and in a minute it burns high again. 
We fill a pot brimming with snow,
and when it melts down, fill it again and again 
until it is full and boiling. 
We drink scalding tea and eat toasty sandwiches, 
then tramp contented back into the night.

And to complement this book... 

Soda Bread (for those toasted sandwiches to be eaten under a moonlit sky)

Inspiration:  Recipe printed on a linen towel from Pi'lo (apparently Georgia O'Keefe made a version of this soda bread every day)

Makes 2 small loaves

1 tsp (6 grams) baking soda
1 tbsp (12 grams) baking powder
4 cups (518 grams) stone ground whole grain wheat OR spelt flour 

1 1/2 cups (367 ml) plain yogurt OR sour cream OR buttermilk
1 egg, beaten gently

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF 

1.  Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2.  Make a well in the centre. Combine beaten egg and buttermilk. Add to the dry

3.  Combine gently with your hands, or alternatively, use a stand mixer fitted with a dough 

4. Remove dough from bowl and knead a few times on a flour-covered surface.

5.  Divide dough into two equal rounds. Flatten slighty with hands.

6.  Place into pans which have been lightly oiled (a neutral oil such safflower or canola
     works well). Cut a cross or slash across the top of the loaf - apparently, you need to let 
     the fairies out!

7. Bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown.

8.  Remove from oven and let cool on a rack. 

And for sandwiches...choose your filling - I used Maple Cheddar from Ontario and Granny Smith apples. Slice up the loaf and you're ready to make your own toasted treats along with mugs of hot tea.


  1. Replies
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    2. You're welcome, Barb & Alan. Thanks for reading...and for your generous comment! xo

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