________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 1 . . . . August 29, 2008


To Share One Moon.

Ruowen Wang. Illustrated by Wei Xu & Xiaoyan Zheng.
Toronto, ON: Kevin & Robin Books, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $22.95.
ISBN 978-0-9738799-5-7.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Deanne Coombs.

*** /4


Today is Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival. Chinese Moon Festival is very much like Thanksgiving in North America. On this night, families get together to admire the bright, full moon while eating sweet moon cakes and enjoying a cup of tea. Under this full moon friendships are renewed, families are reunited, and long-lost loved ones find their way to each other.


To Share One Moon is a poignant, realistic and complex story of similarities and contrasts between cultures and countries as well as between reality and legend. Nui Nui (Mandarin for little girl) narrates the difficulties endured by the family as they adapt to a new culture and lifestyle in Canada. It is also a story of family breakdown, separation and loss. The legend of the Moon Lady, Chang-Er, and also the thoughts of an ancient Chinese poet parallel the family's story.

internal art

      The book is beautifully illustrated by two different artists who continue the theme of contrast and similarity between reality and legend. Cool colours and clean lines depict the modern Chinese family in the reality of their lives while rich colours and fluid lines exquisitely portray the legend of the Moon Lady Chang-Er. The picture of Chang-Er dwelling alone on the moon, except for her white rabbit, conveys feelings of the desolation and loneliness running concurrently throughout this book.

      The child portrayed in this story appears to be about five years of age while the content and language used is sophisticated and more suited to older children. There are several topics of discussion in this story which could be utilized in an educational setting in various ways.

      The story begins with the familyís celebration of the Moon Festival in China with many friends and relatives before the family emigrates to Canada. The family has a comfortable life in China; Nui Nui's Papa is a doctor, and Mama holds a high ranking position in a bank. They, along with Nui Nuiís grandmother, come to Canada as Papa feels Nui Nui will receive a better education here. Nui Nui is sad to leave her old nanny in China. To comfort her, the nanny points to the full moon and tells her of an ancient poet who says we are all under the same moon even though we live thousands of miles apart. We can still think of each other with love and remember one another.

      At first, the family is optimistic upon arriving in Canada, but this feeling quickly changes. Mama and Papa cannot find positions in their chosen professions in Canada. Papa has to take a job making muffins, and Mama goes to school to improve her English skills. The first Moon Festival in Canada is not a happy one. There are no friends and family to celebrate with as everyone is too busy working and studying.

      Grandmother (Nai Nai) is also homesick and tells Nui Nui the story of the Moon Lady, Chang-Er, who swallows two pearls her husband has been given by the Queen Mother of the West. She is punished and sent to the cold moon where she lives alone except for a white rabbit for company. She longs to return to earth and her husband.

      After the second Moon Festival in Canada, Mama returns to China. Papa returns to night school to study to be a doctor again. Both Papa and Nui Nui miss Mama. Nui Nui looks at the full moon and wonders whether Mama will ever come back to them

At night, while Papa and Nai Nai are asleep, I sit by the window looking up at the bright, full moon. I am thinking of Mama and my nanny, and wondering if they are looking up now and sharing the same moon with me. The ancient poet and his words occur to me again, which also remind me of Nai Nai's story about the Moon Lady.



Deanne Coombs is a mother, grandmother and semi-retired teacher who lives in Winnipeg, MB, has read thousands of children's books to thousands of children and enjoyed every minute of it.

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

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