CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 4. . . . October 18, 2002
Full Moon Rising is an anthology of twelve poems, matching one of the names given to a full moon each month with appropriate rural, seasonal occurrences. Two themes that also connect the poems are a family enjoying each other's company and their working together. The short (ten-thirteen line), poems are written in blank verse. Each has a line matching the moon name with the month. There are three appendices - an explanation about a Blue Moon, an explanation about a Black Moon, and a list of the different names for the moon in each month.
Joanne Taylor's moon poetry is written for primary students. Each poem consists of a few carefully chosen words that create an image of a family's seasonal/monthly activities that relate to the poems' titles which are taken from nature, eg. "Beaver Moon," "Grass Moon." The relationship between the activities and the titles varies from direct to oblique. "Sap Moon" is about collecting sap and making maple syrup while "Honey Moon" is about wedding feasts.
Taylor employs language that children would use in their own conservation with a sprinkling of descriptive words that elevate prose to poetry. The rhythm of Taylor's blank verse is subtle. She employs the techniques of repetition, simile and metaphor, simply and effectively, although sparingly. Most of Taylor's poems are suited to the muted emotional tone she has developed - unfortunately even an approaching thunderstorm can't escape the mood.
Susan Tooke wonderfully illustrates Full Moon Rising. Her realistic paintings have a panoramic view. The foregrounds mainly depict a family (nuclear and extended) engaged in various activities while the backgrounds illustrate the rural landscape. Each double page has a seasonal montage background that forms a border for the poem and the illustration. The poem is in a box that covers a third of the left-hand page while the illustration spreads over half of the left-hand page and all of the right-hand page. The moon is depicted on each page either in the illustration or the background for those events that occur during the day.
Susan's Tooke's illustrations breathe understanding into the poetry. They add the details of rural life that are beyond the knowledge of urban children: frost pictures on a windowpane, a barn full of produce, laundry on the line. Tooke's ability to have feelings emanate from the page is inconsistent. A few make you wish you were there to share the emotion while in many the people and animals appear to be frozen in time. She uses warm and/or bright colors that will attract children. Her detailed paintings are lovely, and with the exception of one illustration; they are excellent matches for the poems.
As the language of Taylor's poetry and Tooke's illustrations lead the reader to infer that it is the voice of a young girl of about six or seven years who relates the family activities, this anthology would be appropriate for grade one or two students. It would fit into units about seasonal change, the moon, or farm life.
Kathleen Kirk is a teacher-librarian at Linden Meadows School in Winnipeg, MB.
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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.