Frances Ives won the 2016 LOM Art prize, and this is her debut picture book. Based on her own experience of moving to the city from the countryside, she shows the happy life of Eric in the country as he helps his mother in their garden and befriends the animals (which include a fox, a badger, and a bear!) At night he likes to look at the sky and think, ‘I see the moon, so high above, shining on me and the friends that I love’.
One snowy day Eric’s mother takes him on a long journey to the city, and, contrasted with the many lush greens in the forest, the city looks a grey and threatening place, with Eric and his mother as the only colour on a double-page spread: Eric has a lovely yellow coat. The moon in their new house looks very different, but a sad Eric still chants a version of his refrain: ‘Maybe the moon, so high above, is shining on me and the friends that I love’. Eric is not daunted for long, and tells the cat who lives in the house all about his animal friends, then sets off to explore the city. Close to, there is more colour – he finds a farmers’ market, and a park where there are other children, and animals. He shows his new friends how to plant a garden and help it grow, and he even gets used to the moon, looking at it while sitting on a wall with a new friend and the cat.
In the spring, Eric and his mother return to the countryside, and he tells his forest friends all about his adventures in the city (bubble pictures show a fountain, playing in the park, and the animals in the street). He concludes, ‘I know that the moon, so high above, is shining on me and friends that I love. Whether we live in the forest or play in the park, we are all joined together by the light in the dark’. The idea of the moon shining on people who are not with you is not new, but it is charmingly portrayed in this book.