October 12, 2021

Little Moar and the Moon

Written by Roselynn Akulukjuk
Illustrated by Jazmine Gubbe
Inhabit Media
28 pp.
Ages 4-7
October 2021
Unless you've lived in a far northern community, you can't imagine the impact of day length on daily activities, especially around the summer and winter equinoxes.  But for little Moar, the fall is particularly concerning with the earlier onset of the night after a summer of full days.

Like most kids after school, little Moar and his friends like to play. But little Moar is always wary of being out too late, cognizant of the ever-darkening sky. You see, while many children are afraid of the dark, little Moar is afraid of the moon.
Whenever he looked at the moon, he saw a face. The face looked like it was giving him a half-smile, and that scared him.
From Little Moar and the Moon by Roselynn Akulukjuk, illus. by Jazmine Gubbe
So with the sky getting a little darker, he says goodbye to his friends and heads home. But another group of friends invite him to play a game of tag and he decides he can sneak in a game before it's too late. However, having so much fun, he loses track of time and, seeing the sky even darker, decides he must head home right then.
From Little Moar and the Moon by Roselynn Akulukjuk, illus. by Jazmine Gubbe
But on the way home, he encounters his cousin feeding his uncle's ten sled dogs. When he asks for little Moar's help, the boy relents, wanting to be helpful. Still the darkness comes as it does and little Moar runs into his uncle's house for shelter. How will the little boy make it home safely if the moon is always watching him?
From Little Moar and the Moon by Roselynn Akulukjuk, illus. by Jazmine Gubbe
Roselynn Akulukjuk, who gave young readers The Owl and the Lemming (2016), again takes us into Nunavut, not for a legend but instead for a quintessential experience for children: dealing with the impact of day length. Many kids love to play outside after school and most don't stay outside so long that they have to worry about the impending darkness. But when the darkness comes early as it does in the far north, making it home before the sun has set is crucial, especially for young who might be fearful of the darkness. Still little Moar isn't afraid of the darkness as much as he's apprehensive about the moon and the face his imagination perceives in its contours. Many cultures have lore associated with the pareidolic image of a face in the moon so little Moar's fear of this entity is not atypical. Many see a pair of eyes and a mouth in that natural satellite. Thankfully Moar's mother can reassure him that what he's seeing are contours and shadows but will he believe her?

Darkness can be frightening but Jazmine Gubbe, an illustrator, concept artist and animator, gives a warmth to that twilight and dusk, using the softness of pinks, greens and purples to transition to rich darker blues of the night. Her colours evoke place and time, bringing us to a Nunavut community in the fall, cool in temperature and vibrant in its activity of play and people. 

Fears are fears, whether in the short days of Nunavut or an urban setting in southern Canada. But for little Moar, his fear is based in his natural environment, not created from frightening graphics on visual media or elsewhere. His fear may not dissipate immediately with the wise words of his mother–fears are unfailingly stubborn–but knowing that he could outplay the moon with some careful maneuvers will surely go a long way to putting that moon in its place, far, far away from Moar.

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