Two brothers’ game of pretend goes astronomically awry in Amavisca and Madrid’s bedtime adventure.
When Mom settles Nicholas and elder brother Charlie into bed, Nicholas isn’t sleepy at all. He begins romping around in a game of pretend, holding his hands as if they were a gun. Charlie warns him that their mother isn’t a fan of such games—and for good reason. One well-aimed (pretend) shot and a resounding “Bang Bang!” from Nicholas, and the unthinkable happens: the moon falls to Earth. Uninjured but stranded, the moon accepts help from Charlie and a very apologetic Nicholas, and with the assistance of a colony of ants and a flock of sparrows to do the heavy lifting, a relieved and thankful moon is returned to the sky just in time for the sunrise. The pearlescent, nighttime illustrations in pencil, colored pencil, and gouache pace through lunar exploits and emotional upheaval alike, as Nicholas’ guilt builds with each page turn, climaxes in a swiftly forgiven outburst, and resolves with the news that Nicholas “never again played with guns...Because it might hurt the moon.” What it lacks in subtlety, the warning against violence and guns makes up for in prudence, though the notion of imaginative play having such drastic (though reparable) consequences may be jarring to readers who enjoy pretend.
A stilted moral somewhat smoothed out by an uplifting bedtime narrative. (Picture book. 3-7)