CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 2. . . .September 12, 2014
Walking home from choir practice where he’s learning to sing an ancient ‘Winter Moon Song’, a rabbit, “not so small, yet not big enough to be noticed”, notices the pattern of a rabbit on the moon. His curiosity about how it got there prompts his mother to relate an old legend of the Great Mother, Creator Rabbit. In this tale within a tale, a young rabbit tries to save Great Mother from starvation by jumping into her stew pot, but she rescues him instead and flings him at the moon. His image – rabbit-in-the-moon -- is the object of adulation by all the rabbits in the dark winter months and the magical inspiration for the ‘Winter Moon Song’. The song has always been performed inside the gathering place, but the little rabbit feels everyone is missing the magic of which his mother spoke. So he sings a solo outside, under the rabbit moon, guided by one wise elder. Those who join in find a new bond with their kind, and a new tradition is created. To this day, under the moon’s magical light and benevolent gaze of the rabbit-in-the-moon, rabbits may be seen leaping and dancing …and now you know why!
Inspired by folktales from other cultures, award-winning writer and singer Martha Brooks has created a fresh, original story to explain the rabbit-in-the-moon image in her first picture book. The ‘not so small’ rabbit is a gentle symbol for a young child bravely taking a first step towards independent thought and action to satisfy his curiosity. Mix a new thinker with courage…and a new leader is born, one not afraid to challenge the status quo, or transform a ritual or tradition to the benefit of many.
Brooks’ text delights with images of snow, “as if a giant hand had tossed a blanket of stars to earth”, “fingering trees” and a way “to lighten the darkest month of the year with a trail of magic.” Illustrator Leticia Ruifernández has breathed life into the tale with watercolor and ink double-page spreads. The paintings are simple and uncluttered, mostly in blues and whites. They comfortably engage the reader in the hushed setting of winter woods where it only takes a little imagination to capture the sound of a small choir raising their voices to the moon. This new tale, Winter Moon Song, is sure to become a listening favorite.
Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.
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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.