The Moon Watched It AllAuthor Shelley A Leedahl Illustrated by Aino Anto ISBN 9780889955370 Binding Trade Cloth Publisher Red Deer Press Inc Publication Date February 14, 2019 Size 311 x 235 mm
In a time before this time, when the world moved at a pony's pace, a woman rocked by her window and turned, every evening, to the moon. . .
The woman was neither young nor old, neither happy nor particularly sad. She was known as Mirada, for she was always gazing. Like the moon, she was what she was.
So begins the poignant story of pensive Mirada, a solitary woman who lives in a bygone village far far away. One day she sees a shy orphan boy who has been cast out of his village. She opens her door to him and as time passes the two unlikely solitudes become a necessary part of each other's lives — as the moon watched it all.
Stirring detailed illustrations by Toronto-based Aino Anto provide the moody and moving visuals for this part fairy tale, part modern allegory, expertly told by Shelley Leedahl, from Ladysmith, BC, and author of The Bone Talker.
Shelley A. Leedahl
Shelley writes for readers of all ages. The Moon Watched It All is her twelfth book, and—as with her award-winning illustrated book The Bone Talker—it demonstrates the value of intergenerational friendships. Other book include I Wasn't Always Like This (essays); Listen, Honey (short stories); and The House of the Easily Amused (poetry). Her work most recently appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry in English, Tenth Anniversary Edition.
Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Leedahl now lives in Ladysmith, BC, where she can frequently be found running or hiking in the woods. Discover more about the author at www.writersunion.ca/member/shelleya-leedahl
Aino studied illustration at OCAD in her home town of Toronto, but her best memories are of the woods near Warkworth in central Ontario where she learned to catch frogs, watch bees, and scavenge for edible plants. In The Moon Watched It All, she joyfully lets the wild out on paper. This is her first picture book.
"Written in richly allusive, atmospheric prose that will keep lovers of words pinned to the page. . . Using such a subdued palette that day can hardly be told from night in her transparent, woodsy watercolors, Ando goes for close-ups of faces (all white) and unframed natural scenes that spill over the trimmed edges or fade into open space. It's pitched most directly to older audiences, but younger ones may catch some of the sonic, thematic, and emotional resonances."
— Kirkus Reviews
"Shelley A. Leedahl's intense story may be in prose form but its intensity parallels that of poetry, steeped in the melancholy of Miranda and the isolation and trepidation of the boy. There is a stillness of person and place that seeps into the story which is far more extensive in text and lyricism than in books typically for the very young. As such it has a strength of message that is both serene and profound. It bears being read over and over to capture the importance of the text and its voice of solemnity and grace. I don't know if that comes from Shelley A. Leedahl's skill as a poet but her words lull and inspire and tug and reassure. The same goes for Aino Anto's illustrations that take the readers through the forest and beneath the moon, watching and waiting as the boy and the woman do. This is Aino Anto's first picture book and her paintings evoke such emotion without indignation at what are sad circumstances for both the boy and for Miranda."
— CanLit for LittleCanadians
"A poignant story. . . Stirring detailed illustrations by Toronto-based illustrator Aino Anto provide the moody and moving visuals for this part fairy tale, part modern allegory, so expertly told by Shelley A. Leedahl. A unique, original, and lovely picture book story for children ages 5-9, The Moon Watched It All is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections."
— Midwest Book Review
"The Moon Watched It All is quite beautiful. It is a simple story of love and loneliness. An old woman lives her life mostly at night and mostly in solitude but for the moon to whom she talks. A young boy is ostracized and shunned by his village, with no home or family to speak of. When the old woman and the young boy meet, they seem to recognize the loneliness in each other, eventually becoming family. While a simple premise, it is told elegantly. . . Anto's use of light throughout, but especially when depicting the moon, is particularly striking. . . There is one particularly striking two-page spread that features a pair of closed eyes and images of the woman in her rocking chair in the various phases of the moon. It maintains that dream-like quality while highlighting the moon, the main character, and illustrating the passage of time in such a beautiful and effective way.
— CM Magazine
A 2019 Moonbeam Children's Book Award Winner, Gold in the Picture Book - All Ages Category