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The Picture Book Buzz

Music For Mister Moon - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Have you ever been shy? Especially about performing or speaking in public. Ever wish you could retreat or disappear into another world? A world where everything would be perfect.

I love just about EVERY book that Erin has illustrated and/or Philip has written. Her style if so soft, gentle toned, and distinctive. And they both create such tender quiet books, such as Bear Has A Story to Tell & The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles. When I saw the cover announced, I immediately knew I wanted to add this book to my collection. I was awed and impressed, but definitely not disappointed.

The award-wining, Philip and Erin Stead have combined their considerable talents to create a beautiful, lyrical book about a child's imagination and her struggle to overcome performance anxiety.

Music For Mister Moon

Author: Philip C. Stead

Illustrator: Erin E. Stead

Publisher: Neal Porter Books/Holiday House (2019)

Ages: 4-8



Music, shyness, imagination, courage, and friendship.

Synopsis (from Publisher):

What if you threw your teacup out your window…and what if it accidentally knocked the moon out of the sky?

A girl named Harriet longs to play her cello alone in her room. But when a noisy owl disrupts her solitude, Harriet throws her teacup out the window and accidentally knocks the moon out of the sky in frustration. Over the course of an evening, Harriet and the moon become fast friends. Worried that he’ll catch a chill, Harriet buys the moon a soft woolen hat, then takes him on a boat ride across a glistening lake, something he’s only dreamed of. But can she work up the courage to play her music for the moon?

In this delicate bedtime story about a shy young cello player who learns to share her music with the moon, the award-winning Philip and Erin Stead deliver another whimsical, visually oriented picture book in their signature style.

Opening Lines:

When Harriet Henry came down for dinner her parents said, "Someday you will play your cello in a big orchestra. Won't that make you happy?

Harriet imagined crowds of people all dressed up like penguins. Her hands became sweaty and her face became hot. "No," she said with a sigh. "I don't think that will make me happy." Harriet pushed her green beans into a neat row.

Why I LOVE this book:

Interestingly, the majority of the story occurs within Harriet Henry's imagination. To accomplish the dreamy feel, Erin hand-printed the images with oil-based soft pastel green, yellow, and orange paints on acrylic and then added pencil lines.

After lugging a cello, almost as big as she is, downstairs for dinner, Harriett responds to her parents suggestion that she would someday play her cello in a "big orchestra," with sweaty hands and a hot face.

Text © Philip Stead, 2019. Image © Erin Stead, 2019.

You see Harriett just wants to play her cello - alone. So she draws on her imagination - changing her parents into penguins (I love that Dad is wearing the apron) and her room into "a little house with a kitchen table, a chair, a teacup, and a fireplace" - to create the perfect solitary place to play her cello. Erin depicts this cozy, safe place almost like a room in a bottle, which beautifully mirrors the shape of the fireplace.

Text © Philip Stead, 2019. Image © Erin Stead, 2019.

But, just as Harriet's about to draw her bow . . . an owl interrupts. Not once, but twice. So Harriet throws her teacup at the owl. I love Philip's next line - then "she sat back down and tried to change her regret into a new teacup." Oh, if only that worked (for all of us). Harriet soon discovers she's knocked the moon out of the sky.

Rescuing Mister Moon from the chimney, she introduces herself as "Hank," and strikes up a friendship. To help her friend, she conjures a wagon and they embark on a mini adventure.

Text © Philip Stead, 2019. Image © Erin Stead, 2019.

Which culminates with Mister Moon asking her to join him in the sky and play her cello for him. Struggling again with anxiety, Harriet/Hank agrees, but only if he "closes his eyes and promises not to cheer." I can't recommend this tender tale enough for those who love the Steads and those in need of a quiet read and/or the encouragement to take a risk.


- be sure to check out Erin Stead's post on her studio and how she made this gorgeous book (;

- if you knocked the moon out of the sky, write a story or draw an image of how you would return the moon to the sky?

- how do you calm your nerves if you have to speak up in class or perform an instrument or do something else scary? or

- make your own Mister Moon model ( and sing, read, or practice an instrument for your moon.

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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