01/08/02
Many Moons of Poems
    by Fiona Barnes (reader)

For many Native Americans, January's full moon was called the Wolf Moon, the time of year when wolves became particularly restless. In fact, each month's moon had a different name that was keyed to the natural happenings of that season. April was "The Frog Moon" when ponds warm up enough for the croaking to begin again; August was the Green Corn Moon when the cornfields ripened, getting ready for fall's harvest; December was the Long Night Moon, to mark the shortest days of the year.

Penny Pollock celebrates these moons in a new book of poems for young readers that traces this annual cycle: When the Moon is Full, A Lunar Year. Pollock's haiku-like poems (none of which are longer than eight lines) are set against the stunning backdrop of the Caldecott-award-winning artist, Mary Azarian's beautiful woodcuts. Here are forests and fields, nests and rolling hills, and the animals that inhabit this world, all of which are bathed in the light from Azarian's moons, large and small, golden and magically glowing. The result is truly breathtaking. Pollock's verse sets a minimalist, almost musical mood, and Azarian's serene pictures open a window to this nocturnal life. You can see the frozen puffs of the wolf's cry in the first poem of the book that begins:

The weather chills,
the night is long,
wolf lifts his head
in lonely song.

At the end of this lovely volume, Pollock has also included a series of questions and answers about the moon that a child might ask. But we adults could certainly be asking them, too, especially when there are blue moons, like there were this past fall. And there are other names for the monthly moons, Pollock tells us in her afterward, like the Hunger Moon, the Crow Moon, and the Hay and Fruit Moons. But the poems for these moons? Ah, Pollock has left these for the reader, young or old, to write by the light of their own moonbeams of inspiration.

Today's Book: When the Moon is Full, A Lunar Year by Penny Pollock, Illus. by Mary Azarian. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-71317-1.

Copyright 2002 by John Cech

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