Saturday, March 19, 2011

Picture Book: How the Moon Regained Her Shape by Janet Ruth Heller

Inspired by Native American folktales, How the Moon Regained Her Shape personifies the moon as “round and full, proud of her gentle light.”  She is fearless and lively.  One day as she dances across the sky, the sun demeans her.  The moon stops dancing because she is tormented by the sun’s words.  Slowly, her body dwindles until she is just “a sliver of her former self.”  Comet notices the changes in his friend, so he visits her.  He urges her to visit a woman named Round Arms.  The moon is warmly welcomed and comforted in the Native American woman’s hut.  Round Arms leads the moon around to various places and people who value her light and force.  At the final stop, a hundred women are dancing and singing:

We sing to the moon, our sister,
Who pulls the seas to the sands,
Who changes her shape like a magician,
Who lights our paths at night. 
Return to the sky, our sister,
For we miss your gentle beams
And your loving smile.

Her eyes sparkling with joy, the moon returns to the sky.  Even though she still wanes when someone insults her, she always “regains her strength and fullness” because she remembers her crucial job and caring friends.   

Evaluation
How the Moon Regained Her Shape is a brilliant example of how ancient people created stories to help them understand the world around them.  The eye-catching illustrations in neutral and muted colors (by Ben Hodson) accompany the stellar storytelling (from Janet Ruth Heller).  The book is a creative way to introduce a lesson or discussion on the lunar phases.  In addition, the power of words and the effects of bullying are depicted in a powerful but hopeful manner.  Though the moon feels hurt and discouraged, she learns to appreciate her unique value—something everyone needs to learn.  As a result, she is able to overcome adversity.  I highly recommend How the Moon Regained Her Shape for ages 6-11.   Publisher Sylvan Dell has compiled a 38-page Teacher's Guide and other web resources to help build your lesson plans and extension activities around.  
Teaching Oppoturnities:
Moon Phase Website

Oreo Cook Moon Phases (Pinterest and Science Bob's Blog)

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