Moon & Sun by Melinda Szymanik, illustrated by Malene Laugesen

Melinda Szymanik is one of our most versatile authors here in New Zealand. She has written picture books, novels for different ages and short stories, many of which have been shortlisted for our book awards. Melinda’s latest book, Moon & Sun, is a gorgeous picture book that will resonate with kids and adults everywhere.

Moon & Sun is told from the point of view of Moon, who feels like she lives in the shadow of her sister, Sun. Everyone loves Sun and the way that she shines. Moon has taken to avoiding her sister so that she only comes out at night. Moon is embarrassed about the craters on her face but she misses the light and warmth that her sister brings. When Sun overhears Moon talking about how unloved she is Sun explains how important she is. People need Moon for the oceans to ‘dance in and out’ and to help them know when to plant crops. Both Sun and Moon are loved but they both get lonely, so sometimes they share the sky.

Moon & Sun is a wonderful story about self-worth and individuality. Melinda shows readers that they all have strengths and value, even if they are different from others. When we work as a team though we can combine our individual strengths to make a great team.

I think every reader will be able to relate to this story. I certainly do. My wife is amazing at fixing things and doing DIY and I’m useless at that stuff, but I’m a good cook and baker and I can do some great funny voices when I read a book aloud. We have different strengths but we’re a great team. I had a kid in my school library last week tell me that she’s no good at swimming. I reminded her that she is an amazing writer and that she could focus on that, and her whole demeanour changed.

Malene Laugesen’s illustrations are gorgeous! The shades of blue for Moon and the yellow, orange and red of Sun captures their personalities perfectly. Both characters shine off the page in their own ways. Sun radiates confidence, while Moon is timid and shy. I love the way that the colours swirl together on the last page, when they are in the sky together.

The only niggle I have is with the production of the book. I feel that it’s a book that deserves to be produced as a hardback, rather than the stapled, paperback that it is.

Moon & Sun needs to be in every school around the country as it fits so perfectly with the focus on our place in the world and identity that starts off the school year. I will be promoting it to all of the teachers at my school as it would work well for all age groups.

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