________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 15 . . . . March 31, 2000

cover If I Were the Moon.

Sheree Fitch. Illustrated by Leslie Elizabeth Watts.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada Ltd., 1999.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-385-25744-9.

Subject Headings:
Imagination-Juvenile fiction.
Nature-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.
Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4

image Sheree Fitch's most recent picture book is a dramatic departure in style and content from her usual rambunctious poetic romps. According to the publisher, If I Were the Moon "...hums like a lullabye" in its depiction of a young girl who envisions herself becoming the moon, the ocean, a tree, a snowflake and a rainbow. Every metamorphosis allows her do something wonderful and magical with her loved ones...


If I were a tree
I'd let you climb high
You could talk to the squirrels
And tickle the sky.

Each of the eight "If I were..." verses consists of four lines with rhyming words ending the second and fourth lines. Double page illustrations by Leslie Elizabeth Watts portray the appropriately diverse array of friends and relatives the young girl counts as those she loves. Watts successfully achieves a Peter-pan like quality in each painting with her lush colours and exaggerated landscapes. Perhaps it is the imaginative setting of the story that accounts for some rather strange depictions of the creatures who inhabit the narrator's otherwise realistic world.

In discussing If I Were the Moon, Fitch says that the idea "...came from an impulse to write a love poem to my husband," but, after completing it, she discovered "...it was a love poem for my husband, my children, my best friends, siblings and my own parents." Although the book seems to be simple, as Fitch says, "...simple does is not equal easy." The poem ends with a strong affirmation of the narrator's sense of self:


But I am who I am
And that's even better
We'll all be together
and forever...

The last page of the book shows the moon beaming down on the sleeping girl and finishes with the words "...and after," an ending that may well inspire a discussion on what is meant by the phrase. "What comes after forever?" certainly is an intriguing question. Fitch says that If I Were the Moon feels a bit like a prayer when she reads it, and that maybe it is. As a bedtime book, it is a gentle, comforting book which will remind readers of Margaret Wise Brown's greatly loved classic The Runaway Bunny. Teachers may enjoy using the "If I were...I would" pattern with primary students as a model to inspire original poems.


Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian living in Winnipeg, MB, who keeps herself busy doing many children's literature related activities.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364