CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 8 . . . . December 14, 2001
Traveling across a whole continent to a new home is bound to provide a never-to-be-forgotten experience for any child. Author Stephen Hume who made a similar trip with his family in the 1950's has drawn on memories of that journey to write Red Moon Follows Truck. Watching his parents pack, the anxious young narrator of this story comforts himself by asking questions in the "voice" of his beloved dog:
"My dog Gypsy wants
to know: How far is west?
Hume has chosen to write his text from a small boy's point of view and in the present tense. In doing so, he is able to infuse the journey with a sense of wonder and excitement. As the family rolls its way west across the prairies, forests and mountains, a big round red moon seems to be trailing the truck. Each night (except for the night of the snowstorm), they pitch their tent under the stars. "Know how the moon seems to follow the truck?" the boy's mother asks him one night as she tucks him into his sleeping bag. "Like the moon, our love is with you wherever you go." Sure enough, the big red moon is shining in the boy's window as he goes to bed the first night in his new house by the sea.
Young listeners will enjoy Leslie Elizabeth Watts' warm richly-colored tempera paintings which help bring to life a text that is more memoir than story. Watts, who will be remembered for her illustrations of Sheree Fitch's two recent picture books, A Mouse in the House (1998) and If I Were the Moon (1999), has cleverly managed to paint a rabbit, (or part of a rabbit!) into each of her illustrations. Young readers will have fun finding the bunny on each page. Teachers may enjoy sharing Red Moon Follows Truck with early years students as a lead-in to a discussion of family trips or a comparison of modern day and 1950's style camping.
There are one or two disparities between the text and the illustrations which may puzzle (or irritate) an older reader. Since the artist portrays the hillside covered with blueberries when the family sets out from their home in Blueberry Hill, it should be safe to assume the season is mid-summer. How can it be then, that the family runs into a snowstorm ("...the biggest snowstorm I've ever seen") before reaching the prairies? Red moons are generally associated with harvest time (or pollution), but neither of these ideas appears to fit the story, nor has the artist provided the reader with any deciduous trees to help determine the season. On the positive side, however, such discrepancies might elicit a lively discussion on the relationship of illustration to text. An optional purchase.
Living in Winnipeg, Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian who still greatly enjoys reading.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.