Message from the Moon by Hilda Offen

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Message from the Moon by Hilda Offen

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Category: Children's Rhymes and Verse
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A charming book with some timeless verses, and lovely illustrations throughout. I did think the more prose-type pieces a let-down, but then I always do.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 64 Date: March 2017
Publisher: Troika Books
ISBN: 9781909991439

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Yes, that is really a 'Message from the Moon' you receive courtesy of this book. You also get the point of view of the sea itself, as well as children seeing the city night from their bedroom window and other people witnessing geese flying over, and you even get a message from a snail. The range of verses in this book is however but one of its many qualities…

I really did love the first section of this book, which is concerned with the more fantastical. There is a 'Killer Caterpillar', whose story, built of five limericks, can actually trip you up with the titular tongue-twister; a variety show staffed by common animals; and an uncommon animal when a dragon's self-awareness awakens. I also thought the two sister poems about an encounter with an alien were flawless. And it was a section that really showed me that this book could connect with the target audience in another way, for the effort the author has put into her own illustrations is just as great as on her wordsmithery. I say this because the pages just invite being filled in with colours – there are multi-coloured beasties, and the dragon itself has talons of bright burnished brass – green scales that glitter like glass in the light. If you find your child's copy of this book being rapidly coloured in that's down to not boredom with the contents, but with an attraction to it enough to want to join in.

What I did also find, however, was a loss in my will to join in. If I had a child to test this book out on, as opposed to my own tastes and preferences, I don't think I would find the following sections to be quite as compelling. This is the fourth consecutive month I've read a poetry compilation where I've had to say I much prefer what I think the young audience will also be more keen on – the bouncy, fun, rhyming works. And quite quickly here we're on to the after-effects of a firework display, or the voice of an apple tree, or are someone seeing a fox. These don't get to be bad, but I always feel if you can make one subject have the vim and verve of simple, fun rhymes, you should perhaps try and make all subjects obey your skill.

Still, here we finally revert to the dazzling and inventive pieces, with a look at the Hansel and Gretel legend, a girl with an unusual habit and a boy with an even more unusual pet. Such works are so readable and re-readable there will be a willing audience for repeats, which makes this book well worth the investment. It's not of the greatest length, but the busyness of every page courtesy of the images also makes you ration the verses. I almost think the visuals are worthy of at least half a star on their own, but I also feel like sticking to my norm star-wise, and so I have done. Yes, the pictures here are wonderful, and some of the pieces are world class, but I also think the too-rapid drop away from firm meters and sterling rhymes is too marked. Still, there is a heck of a lot here to recommend.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

If the artworks here don't appeal (and I can't honestly see that being the case) you might like Where Zebras Go by Sue Hardy-Dawson where the words of the poems themselves create the visuals. You will find a lot that's fun too in Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses.

Buy Message from the Moon by Hilda Offen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Message from the Moon by Hilda Offen at

Buy Message from the Moon by Hilda Offen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Message from the Moon by Hilda Offen at


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