Reviews /

Moon Bear

Authored by Claire Helen Welsh
Illustrated by Carolina T. Godina
Published by Quarto Publishing PLC

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Moon Bear is a simple chronological story that will be familiar to adults and children, an almost wordless picture book, about a child who is afraid of the dark.

It is nearing the end of the day. Ettie is surrounded by toys and her drawings of sky and space. Mum signals the start of the bedtime routine, but when it’s time for lights out, it’s clear Ettie isn’t happy and as soon as her Mum leaves, she switches on the torch hidden under her pillow. But a magical adventure is about to begin. Moon dust seeps in and curious, Ettie begins to explore and play with it. As her excitement grows, she draws a bear with the dust, and it is then that a rather shy moon bear appears in her bedroom. Cautiously, the two begin to play and soon they are friends, but the small bear finds Ettie’s torch and is frightened by its light. The bear is afraid of the dark. Ettie gently comforts him and helps him to confront his fears by exploring different light sources in her room and the pair fall peacefully asleep together. In the morning when Ettie wakes, her friend is gone, but evidence of his presence remains. Ettie races through the day, eager for it to end and for the magic of darkness to return once more.

Carolina T. Godina’s illustrations capture the enchantment and joy of this simple adventure. The drawings are free of excessive detail, and this allows the reader to focus on the characters and their feelings. Frames give pace to the events and there is a wonderfully amusing double paged spread which shows Ettie’s day after her nighttime adventure. This series of frames depicts Ettie’s haste to get on with the day and her impatience for nighttime. Mum’s confusion is clear; she is shown trailing behind her daughter looking puzzled, rather bewildered and quite exhausted by the end of the day.

This is a joyful story with a simple plot and familiar themes: fear of the dark, the importance of friendship, imagination and adventure. Moon Bear would make a gentle and enjoyable bedtime story and is a book to be explored and enjoyed with young children.