Nor should it be assumed that "quiet books" are best reserved for bedtime, although both of these books will serve well at night or nap time.
Each, though, is also a compelling story, encouraging discussions and repeated readings to explore and imagine further details within each scene. Both also provide scaffolds for children to build confidence, to find agency and self-reliance, and to value imagination beyond immediate gratification. Both also expand perceptions related to size, perspective, distance, and connections. And both are GORGEOUS in color, images, and book design.
The central character, acorn-capped Oli, is a sensitive and observant little fella, clearly a member of the wee-folk world but not quite a fairy or elf or otherwise easily labeled. Oli appreciates the pebble's unusual shade of blue, its "not-quite" shape. As he encounters various woodland animals and elves, he is challenged to cast aside the useless blue pebble and pursue more practical items.
Oli responds gently and politely. He is not naive, but is undeterred by their arguments, convinced that he should be guided by his inner compass. The very satisfying ending confirms the value of his decisions and offers a thread of a suggestion that he will continue on his centered, mindful travels through the world.
And what a world it is. The robin-egg blue tones are rendered in a dreamlike wash, with misty edges with just enough enough sharp contrast from pragmatic others to elevate the tension without becoming sinister.
WHEN THE MOON CAME DOWN is written and illustrated by Feridun Oral. This quiet book is also a fantasy story, one that feels perfectly suited to bedtime.
Briefly, when little bunny wakes at night, feeling alone and frightened, he is befriended by a sliver of a waxing moon. During their nightly meetings, moon helps bunny find food, explore the woods, and experience the security of a deepening friendship.
Eventually, full moon invites bunny to visit his home in the night sky. Magical moments unfold. Their relationship and special talisman allow little bunny to navigate his days and nights on his own. Here, too, the illustrations are mesmerizing.
As gentle and soothing as this story will be at bedtime, it invites daytime discussions to compare fantasy with reality. It can spark curiosity about the relative sizes, distances, and shapes of moon and stars, as well as the role of instinct and learning in rabbits, particularly their nocturnal habits. None of that may be what the author/illustrator intended, but that's the magic of beloved picture books- they work their way into the nooks and crannies of hearts AND minds.
It is also an example of ways in which picture books offer different appeal at different ages.
A copy of each book was provided by the publisher, Minedition, with a request for a free and honest review.