________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 9 . . . . December 22, 2006


Blue Moon Mountain. 

Geraldine McCaughrean. Illustrated by Nicki Palin & Tomislav Tomic.
Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books, 2006.
44 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-894965-56-6.
Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.
Review by Gregory Bryan.
**** /4 


“There is nowhere else we can go,” sighed the Wolf. “When all those stories and legends are finished, we’ve served our purpose, haven’t we? We’ve proved how brave the hero in the story is to have fought us, or killed us, or escaped our fearful paws? Of course the storytellers never say anything good about us.” 


Once in a blue moon, a path leads to Blue Moon Mountain—a place where all the monsters of myth, legend and folklore reside. In Geraldine McCaughrean’s Blue Moon Mountain, the story protagonist, Joy, is born under a blue moon. Some years later, the young girl awakens one blue moon night and follows the moonlit path. Joy hopes to see a unicorn. Instead, Joy meets beasts like The Big Bad Wolf, the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk, and the Troll from The Three Billy Goats Gruff. She also meets other, perhaps less well-known creatures like a Gulon, the Kraken, the Gryphon and a Roc. Rather than being scared, Joy sees majesty in what she comes to learn are misunderstood, misrepresented creatures.  

internal art

     One of the numerous strengths of the book is that the last three pages are dedicated to discussion of 18 of the less well-known mythical creatures that appear before Joy. As such, this book serves as a superb introduction to mythology for young readers.   

     Blue Moon Mountain is, simply, a beautiful book. Told in lyrical prose, the story of brave Joy is, indeed, a joy. McCaughrean’s writing is a delight, and her talent is reflected in the fact that she has won numerous awards, including the United Kingdom’s prestigious 1988 Carnegie Medal. So beautiful are Nicki Palin and Tomislav Tomic’s illustrations, however, that they threaten almost to steal the show. The artwork for the book is exquisite. Colourful. Imaginative. Detailed. Alluring. What a marvellous combination. Furthermore, the pages are framed with intricately detailed decorative borders.

     First published in the United Kingdom in 1994, the 2006 Simply Read Books publication of Blue Moon Mountain is sure to appeal to North American audiences. Whether for the lyrical text or the ornate illustrations, this book stands out as a “must have” book for young readers.      

Highly Recommended.
Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB. 

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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