There’s a book I kept checking out from the library that I finally decided needed a permanent place on my shelf.
A boy named Nigel has dreams he only tells the moon, because the moon won’t spill his secrets. The moon is a safe confidant.
Text ©Antwan Eady Illustration ©Gracey Zhang
“Hi. My name’s Nigel.
And I’m an astronaut.
A superhero too.”
Nigel is a boy with big dreams. But what happens when he’s afraid to share them with the world? What will it take for him to gain the courage to see that his dreams are possible? To gain the courage to tell his dreams others? Sometimes it takes believing in yourself and being proud of who you are.
Illustrator Gracey Zhang puts Nigel’s face, filled with worry, insecurity, and fear, on full display. Nigel is almost pleading with the reader to rescue him from what he believes will be certain humiliation.
Illustration ©Gracey Zhang
Oh, that look of misery pierced my heart!
This is the story of how Nigel finds courage and learns to believe in himself. I won’t spoil it for you by explaining how he gets there.
Suffice to say, the story pulls at the heart strings. Nigel’s longing, his dreaming, his fear is palpable. Kudos to Antwan Eady for creating such a vulnerable and beautiful main character. And kudos to Gracey Zhang for putting Nigel’s vulnerability and joy on full display in the illustrations made, using ink, gouache, and watercolors.
One note on craft: At two key moments in the text, the author repeats two sentences:
His eyes, they glow. His smile, it shines.
First, notice how the two verbs, glow and shine, can also be used to describe the moon. Then take a moment to see where these two sentences are placed in the narrative arc. Masterful! Cheers!
Make a list of all the occupations you’d like to try. Cut out pictures from old magazines or print pictures from the Internet, showing people who work in those careers and use them to make a collage.
Paint a watercolor or draw a picture of a full moon night, so that the moon takes up much of the page. Write your dreams on the moon and hang it on your bedroom wall. See if your dreams change over time.
Talk about why sharing your dreams can be scary. On the other hand, how can sharing your dreams with others (teachers, parents, friends) help you?
Make an origami crescent moon.
Title: Nigel and the Moon
Author: Antwan Eady
Illustrator: Gracey Zhang
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books, Harper Collins, 2022
Ages: Elementary school
Themes: self-confidence, dreams, careers
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.