By Andreas Steinhöfel, illustrated by Nele Palmtag, translated by Matthew O. Anderson, music composed by Georges Bizet and Sergei Prokofiev. Plough Publishing House, 2017. 80 pages. $19/hardcover with CD. Recommended for ages 7–11.
If My Moon Was Your Sun is a sophisticated children’s book that tells the story of nine-year-old Max removing his grandfather, who is battling dementia, from a nursing home to share an afternoon in a meadow that is special to them both. The story adds additional dimension when a female patient at the nursing home joins them on the adventure. The book infuses nice touches of philosophy, pragmatism, and well-framed observations about life as the trio make their way to the meadow and the joy as they revel in the feel of the meadow and in one another’s company. First published in Germany in 2015 under the title Wenn mein Mond deine Sonne wäre, the book includes a CD audiobook that features symphonic recordings of works by Prokofiev and Bizet, providing a musical sensibility to the story as it unfolds. (Remember Peter and the Wolf?)
Author Andreas Steinhöfel wrote the story to go along with the orchestral compositions as part of a project for children’s concerts. Illustrator Nele Palmtag is accomplished at providing the right feel for the characters and the settings with well-conceived and -executed colored pencil sketches. The combination of the story, the illustrations, the music, and the bits of sage perspective from the young and old characters helps young readers to enhance their appreciation for music and to build awareness of and empathy for elders who are struggling in their later years but who still have much to offer. Readers may also begin to realize the simple potential of their own gumption.