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The Picture Book Buzz

Moon's First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

What a fun month! The anniversary of the Apollo 11 Launch resulted in so many great books on the astronauts, the moon, and space exploration. In addition to the twelve newest ones I love (here), I want to shout Phillip and Erin Stead's Music for Mr. Moon and Laura Roettiger and Ariel Boroff's Aliana Reaches for the Moon which released earlier this year.

But today, I want to focus on the adorable picture book created by Susanna Leonard Hill and Elisa Paganelli. It was genius of Sourcebooks to seek out Susanna and ask her to create a story from the moon's POV. When combined with Elisa's tender, child-friendly illustrations, it's no wonder this book is on the NY Times Best Seller's list!

Before I dive in, take look at the covers. I couldn't resist posting them both. I mean, come on, how often does a picture book get released with two different, stunning covers? The moon's face is so tender and full of child-like wonder and excitement, it immediately snags the potential reader. Elisa definitely boosted the books meteoric success with these covers. I've seen them flying off the shelves at my local Barnes and Noble and Indie bookstores, kids clutching them and adults excited to share them.

Moon's First Friends

Author: Susanna Leonard Hill

Illustrator: Elisa Paganelli

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (2019)

Ages: 4-8



Friendship, Apollo 11 Moon Landing, and science


A heartwarming story of a friendship-seeking moon that also celebrates the extraordinary 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing!

From high up in the sky, the Moon has spent her whole life watching Earth and hoping for someone to visit. Dinosaurs roam, pyramids are built, and boats are made, but still no one comes. Will friends ever come visit her?

One day a spaceship soars from Earth...and so does her heart.

Includes bonus educational pages about the moon mission!

Opening Lines:

The Moon was queen of the night sky.

She was so bright that everything she touched glowed with silver light.

But after many, many years had passed, she was lonely.

"If only someone would visit me," she said.

Why I LOVE this book:

While this is an adorable book about the moon's desire for a friend and the first Apollo moon landing, it is also a very subtle science and history book as well. For instance, the moon tells the dinosaurs that if the come up to visit, "you'll feel lighter than air!" And then there's the great two-page spread (supplemented in the back matter) that shows the phases of the moon, as the cute moon, with her adorable swirl curls, shows "off for the people below."

Text © Susanna Leonard Hill, 2019. Image © Elisa Paganelli 2019.

Over the years, the moon watched the earth change and creatures come and go, until see saw something new - people. She watched them learn about fire, build tall structures, and learn to sail, drive, bike, and finally fly. But no one of them ever visited or seemed to notice her.

After failing to get anyone's attention with an eclipse, just as the moon wondered if she'd ever have a friend, humans started to experiment with rockets.

Text © Susanna Leonard Hill, 2019. Image © Elisa Paganelli 2019.

With just enough information to get kids asking questions and spurring conversations and hopefully research, Susanna and Elisa supply teasers of the Mercury capsule missions, the rocket separation, and finally an exchange of gifts between friends. And to top it all off, there's five pages of excellent, conversational back matter.

Text © Susanna Leonard Hill, 2019. Image © Elisa Paganelli 2019.

As a mentor text, this is a great example of combining an anthropomorphized, fictional main character with facts, history, and science within the text and illustrations, as well as extremely accessible back matter ("Space is a beautiful place, but if you want to go there, you'll need the right clothes."), to create a wonderful informational fiction that will entice young kids and supply a discussion starting point for teachers and parents. This is truly a delightful informational fiction book, that will appeal to a wide range of children and adults. It is a great introduction to the moon, space, and NASA. One I hope will be in every library.


- if you have the Barnes & Noble version (or fin it in the library), be sure to scan the QR codes at the front and back end pages. Then maybe do it again as you read the spreads about the launch and the landing;

- scroll through Susanna's Facebook page for a - Moon Haiku (7/20), Mission Moon Madlib (7/19),

Make your moonlit sky craft (7/18), Maze (7/17), Word search (7/15), Coloring page (7/12), Make a sugar cookie solar system (7/9), Make a moon and star mobile (7/6), or Make a fruit/veggie rocket (7/1);

- do an easy gravity science experiment, from "Buggy & Buddy"; or

- write or draw your own story of what it would be like to visit the moon.

If you missed Susanna Leonard Hill's interview on Monday, find it (here).

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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