The Moon Jumpers
by Janice May Udry
pictures by Maurice Sendak
We've had this one for awhile. There are certain illustrators that I will buy no matter what - Sendak, Lobel, Cooney, and Turkel to name a few. So when I saw this in a book sale I bought it, stuck it on the shelf and promptly forgot about it. I came across it again a few months ago while organizing, and looked at it. Sendak or not, I was not particularly impressed by the cover. Something about that thick stripe of magenta across the top. Or maybe the boring block letters. Whatever the reason, I laid it aside on my discard pile without once opening the book. That stack laid buried beneath my shoes at the bottom of my closet until a week or so ago.
Tommy was playing in my closet - a forbidden activity because that's where we usually hide gifts - and he came out with Moon Jumpers. "Read this," he said.
He crawled onto my bed and settled in. I opened the book.
Isn't this lovely? That black cat looks back at the reader, almost beckoning.
So I did.
Moon Jumpers is a very simple story told by Janice May Udry, a story about four children slipping outside one night while the parents pour over a book at the table. I can almost feel the dewy grass beneath my feet. Can't you?
Sendak's paintings aren't the only treasures hidden between the covers. Udry's prose are stunning as well.
Down in the sandbox the pail and the shovelThe children dance, barefoot.
are left by the castle door.
The goldfish play with the moonfish deep in the lily pool.
Those old frogs begin to croak. And the fireflies
come from the woods. The giant moth zooms by
looking for the moonflowers.
Tommy begs for this book over and over and over. It's not hard to understand why. The expression on the book boy's face speaks of exquisite joy. The joy of being outside. At night. In the country. With the moon looming overhead, and the night breeze kissing his bare legs. I want to be in the book. And I'm an adult with dishes to wash as soon as the kids are tucked into bed. How much more magical must this seem to a child?