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LADDER TO THE MOON by Maya Soetoro-Ng

LADDER TO THE MOON

By Maya Soetoro-Ng (Author) , Yuyi Morales (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: April 12th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4570-0
Publisher: Candlewick

It’s hard to imagine the child for whom this intentionally inspiring mystical fable will strike a chord. Idealistic adults, on the other hand, will love it. They’ll see it as an opportunity to foster compassion and tolerance, to introduce the idea of feeling connected to family members who’ve passed away and to share Morales’ lovely, folk-art–style illustrations. All of which are worthy goals. Unfortunately, debut author Soetoro-Ng’s lengthy, abstract text seems destined to lose the interest of young listeners, preventing any of these aims from being achieved. Occasionally awkward phrasing (“her silver-bangled arms outstretched and tinkling”) is distracting, though there are also some appealing images (“she tossed herself out of bed like a tumbleweed”). Still, children are more likely to spend their time wondering why (and how) the moon sings than following the meandering plot as Suhaila and her grandmother Annie magically travel to the moon and then share their sanctuary with those in need. Morales’ beautiful, luminous paintings, with soft edges and gently rounded figures, go a long way toward making the sentimental story almost work as an imaginative adventure. Double-page spreads with lots of celestial blue provide plenty to pore over, while the textures visible in her paintings are likewise pleasing. Ultimately, though, the artwork isn’t enough o prevent this achingly earnest and heartfelt effort from sinking under its own weight. Disappointing. (author’s, illustrator’s notes) (Picture book. 4-7)