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Summary: Winter is approaching and it is time to head south. Moonshadow, a young swan, watches as other birds move away. He is worried that it will be too late for them to go and that his wings won't be strong enough to carry him. His grandfather assures him everything will be Okay, and they'll go when the time is right. When the day arrives, Moonshadow is ready. He stays close to his family, and they travel through all kinds of weather. His grandfather doesn't make it through a particularly bad storm, and Moonshadow's father takes over the flock. Moonshadow learns that life must go on, and that his grandfather will always be in his heart. This picture book offers a story about dealing with death.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 9; read yourself: 8 to 10
Interest Level: 5 to 9
Reading Level: 3.3
Young Reader Reaction: Our daughter listened closely and looked for Moonshadow on every page. She instantly recognized the Northern Lights and was proud she knew what they were right away. She was very sad when Moonshadow's grandfather died and said she didn't like the book because of that.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a beautifully told, well illustrated story. Ultimately, I think my daughter DID like this book but didn't know how to deal with the stark, sudden death. Although the illustrations handle it well, there is no denying what happened visually. This is a book I'd like to have around in the event of a grandparent passing away.
Pros: Beautiful, calming illustrations and a story of a loving family make this a must-read book to help kids understand death and loss.
Cons: None. Because the story does involve death, you may want to screen it before sharing it with your child so you can gauge how s/he might react.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a beautiful book that can be a comfort in reading with a young child or for an older child who wants to be "alone" with their grief.
Educational Themes: There are several interesting layers to this book. In addition to the theme about the loss of a family member, the author weaves in some wonderful information about swans, migration, and family.
Notes: The Reading Tub® picked up an advance review copy of this book at Book Expo America 2009. There are no expectations of review associated with this book.
Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, animal characters, family, death and loss, grandparents