Two Moons, Two Jane Yolen Books

The year was 1987.  I had been teaching preschool for three years.  I was immersed in children’s books, reading the great ones and the new ones.  That was the year I became picky about books, because what I read aloud to children made all the difference in the world.  I had mastered the art of stopping in the middle of reading to laugh, or cry, or to have an important conversation.  Reading aloud and knowing good books had become ‘my thing.’

1987 was also the year Jane Yolen wrote Owl Moon.  It won the coveted Caldecott Medal.  It is that good.

The book transformed my reading, or perhaps it transformed me.  I did far more than just read the words aloud.  Children went on a hunt outdoors to find bits and pieces of nature in order to create our own Owl Moon mural.  I remember showing children the illustrations and how to draw with a pencil before water coloring.  I remember children breaking off pieces of pinecone to create the big wings of the owl.

This was something I had never done before, a major group art project based on a children’s book.

I hosted a family event at school at night.  We went owling in the woods beyond our playground.  It was very dark, it was wonderful.  Children also made paper bag owls. Decades later, a child who had been in my class told me she still had her paper bag owl.  Families still reminisce to this day about going owling.

This was completely new for me, hosting a major event for families based on a children’s book.  It fueled my fire for good children’s books.

Fast forward to a few years ago.  Jane Yolen was a guest speaker at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts.  The museum is dedicated to children’s book art, and often has authors as guest readers and speakers.

After her wonderful presentation, I had a chance to meet Jane Yolen.  I told her about going owling, and how her book had made such a difference.  We talked!  I realized that people around us were silent, as our conversation was deep and true.

Jane Yolen and her talented author daughter Heidi (yes, the child in Owl Moon!) have written a new book this year.  It is about a moon.  Well, it is about far more than a moon. Who better to write a children’s book about a moon?

It’s been thirty-two years since Owl Moon was published.  Yet, 2019 was just the right year for this book, A Kite for Moon.  Fifty years ago, astronauts landed on the moon.  Neil Armstrong made the  event famous with his words.  Jane Yolen makes the event more meaningful by writing what may have inspired many children like Neil.  “A very small boy was flying his kite on the beach near his house.  He looked up, at the moon.”

The story is simple, yet filled with hope and promise over many years.  The boy never gives up sending a kite to the moon.  Never.  He works hard at his studies, he dreams, and he promises a visit.  Words like waxed and waned, eclipsed, and math words like equations, keep children curious.  They make teachers pause for spontaneous discussions and sidetracked lessons.

In the final pages of the book, the grown boy reaches the moon as an astronaut, yet his words carry the message he has always felt and worked hard for —  “Hello Moon”, he said.  “I’ve come for that visit.”  And the whole world watched.

I have read this remarkable book only six times, and I feel fire and hope every single time. I can’t wait for the school year to start and read this book to the children.

Owl Moon took the children owling.  I wonder where A Kite for Moon will take my class.  A telescope to look at the moon at night?  Whatever it is, I echo the dedication and tribute words in the book:

For Neil Armstrong, who showed us the way.

Jennie

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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70 Responses to Two Moons, Two Jane Yolen Books

  1. Ritu says:

    I love how these books can inspire!

  2. Mischenko says:

    Jennie, we love this book! Ours is a 1988 edition we keep on the shelf. It’s such a beautiful story. No wonder children love it so much with the parent/child relationship and all the captivating imagery in it. Just wonderful how you planned an outing around it and met the author. You are amazing! ❤

  3. beetleypete says:

    Another wonderfully inspiring tale. I love that someone kept their paper owl all those years. And a telescope sounds perfect for the new book. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. Opher says:

    That sounds brilliant. It is not one I am familiar with. I love what you do with books Jennie. Two moons are better than one!

    • Jennie says:

      It is brilliant. It just fills me up, and the children are over the moon (pun intended). Two moons are definitely better than one! Thank you, Opher.

  5. Norah says:

    What a delightful post, Jennie. I would love to have gone owling with you, your children and their families. I can’t wait to find out what you all do with this new book, published perfectly for this year’s anniversary. Be sure to share.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Norah. I wish you could have been there, too. My head is already spinning with ideas for the upcoming school year. I had planned to do a unit on China, and now I’ll have to connect it with a unit on the moon (of course). Did you know there is only one man made object on Earth that is visible from the moon? It’s the Great Wall of China. I will definitely share!

  6. I have not read this book, but can so feel the passion for which your love of it echoes out across your words here within this post dear Jennie…
    I am certain your new love of the long awaited sequel will be just as enthusiastically received by your new class as was the first book all those years ago by you..

    Lovely read my friend ❤

  7. beth says:

    Isn’t it amazing how books can transform us in ways we never could have imagined? I’m looking forward to the new moon book!

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, it is amazing! Your kinders will love this book, especially if you touch on astronauts, and of course the moon. Like you, I just love reading good books to children.

  8. Elihu says:

    Books are powerful! I haven’t read this book, but I’m going to check it out!

  9. quiall says:

    That touched me Jennie! The greatest gift I ever received was the ability to read. My world opened up to reveal infinity. My parents nurtured that curiosity as did my teachers. Your kids are lucky.

  10. Maya Fa says:

    These books are amazing! Please keep us updated , so we could learn more about them.

  11. We have owls around our place so “Owl Moon” was instantly one of my favourites. I still remember the image of the little girl standing with her mittens in front of her scarf over her mouth – the heat of all those words she hadn’t spoken. Beautiful book. How nice that she has another one out (with her daughter). And weren’t you the lucky one to meet her?!!

    • Jennie says:

      Yes! Your memory is crystal clear. A good book does just that. The new one is excellent, and I was so struck at two moons, many years apart. I was definitely lucky to meet and talk with Jane Yolen. I’m glad you enjoyed this, Anneli. Thank you!

      • This is one of the things I loved about teaching – reading to the kids – and often, I enjoyed the books as much as, or more than, the kids did. Owl Moon was a memorable one for us.

      • Jennie says:

        Exactly! I feel the same way. Reading aloud is the best thing I do. I love it as much as the children do. 😀

  12. Great story, Jennie. To be able to meet an author you admire has to be a real treat.

  13. I am happy she was inspired to write another wonderful book for you to bring to your students but somehow I think you could read them the dictionary and make it exciting. You passion and exuberance are contagious.

    • Jennie says:

      I was thrilled that her new book is as terrific as the old one. Are you ready for this? I actually DO read the dictionary to children. I invented “The Stop Game”, where I fan the pages and find words. It is really fun! Even learning alphabetical order is fun. Thank you for your kind words, Marlene. You have a way with words. I just love reading what you write.

      • I so agree how fun the dictionary can be. My dad helped me with my English playing that kind of word game on Sundays. He did not make it fun though. ;( I knew you would. Haha.
        I hope to come out of hiatus soon. It’s been quite the summer.

      • Jennie says:

        I know exactly what you mean. It can be fun or ugly awful. Looking forward to hearing about your summer. You are the hardest working person with the biggest heart. I hope you can climb out of hiatus soon. Best to you, Marlene. 🙂

  14. Delighted to hear about Jane and her daughter’s latest! We love Owl Moon, now we’ll have another to inspire us. ❤

  15. L. Marie says:

    I love Jane Yolen’s books. So glad you had the opportunity to meet her.

    You won on my blog. Please comment on it to confirm, Jennie.

  16. petespringerauthor says:

    No wonder the kids and their parents adore you, Jennie. Owling at night with your family. It doesn’t get much better than that for a young child.

  17. mitchteemley says:

    Wonderful how your journey as a communicator has echoed Jane Yolen and her daughter’s, Jennie.

  18. Tim says:

    Owl Moon is a Caldecott Medalist- it was not awarded a Newbery.

  19. Tim says:

    Owl Moon is a Caldecott Medal Winner- it was not awarded a Newbery.

  20. Ellen says:

    Benjamin and I first became acquainted with Jane Yolen when I came across her “How Do Dinosaurs” series of books because of his great love of dinosaurs. Many of them had been published before he was born. Owl Moon was recommended to me when I was ordering several from the series and I purchased it as well. He loved it, as did I! I was unaware of this new book, but it certainly must be purchased right away. You never cease to amaze me with your creativity. Every preschooler should have a Jennie! Thank-you! P.S. Today was my monthly book swap at the Saylesville Friends Meeting House and I was telling one of the volunteers about you and your magnificent blog. I had taken a box filled with books that Benjamin has outgrown for their children’s section, they are always in need of them. I also shared those words of yours about “stories” that I love! Thank-you!

    • Jennie says:

      I love her “How Do Dinosaurs…” books. You and Benjamin were fortunate to find this great series as well. I’ll bet you had some wonderful books in the boxes you donated to the book swap! I always tell people that my creativity comes directly from the children. It’s their ideas, and I just follow through- emergent curriculum. Thank you for sharing my words and stories and blog with others, and for your kind words, Ellen. You have the same enthusiasm for children’s literature that I do. 🙂

  21. Darlene says:

    Both books are perfect for the schoolroom. So much to learn and many discussions I’m sure.

  22. Going “owling.” What a wonderful adventure and way to make a book come alive. I see some owling in my near future. 🙂 Thanks, Jennie, for the uplifting post, as always.

  23. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, this is another example of your excellent teaching.

  24. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is another wonderful post from the excellent teacher–Jennie!

  25. amreade says:

    What a beautiful post. My children loved reading that book when they were young, and it was always one of my favorites to read to them. I love all of Jane Yolen’s books, but Owl Moon is my favorite. I will have to find out more about A Kite for Moon–it sounds enchanting. Thanks for introducing it to us!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad your children enjoyed this book as much as mine did. You will love the new book! I’m a big fan of her dinosaur books, too.

  26. Hello, greetings from Japan.
    I came via Charles’ site (https://charlesfrenchonwordsreadingandwriting.wordpress.com/2019/08/19/two-moons-two-jane-yolen-books/).
    I remember reading the Japanese translation many years ago, and very happy to rediscover this book again. Thank you for sharing your experience, I am sure you are a great teacher.
    Best wishes,
    Takami

  27. Owl Moon is one book that I do not have in my collection yet I love it. I will have to invest in it! I had no idea that there was going to be a companion to it, either, so I will have to check that out! Thank you!

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