The Nightgown of the Sullen Moon
The Nightgown of the Sullen Moon captured my heart as a child. It is one of those rare and special stories that feels completely original and unexpected. Nancy Willard's soothing magical prose is perfectly complimented by the glowing watercolor of David McPhail in this dreamy story.
On the billionth birthnight of the moon, a little girl taking away clean laundry leaves her own blue flannel nightgown stitched with stars dancing on the line. It's spotted by the moon, who sullenly complains that though many have praised and adored her, no one has ever really given her what she truly wants: a beautiful nightgown. "But where will you get a nightgown, dear Moon?" asks the sun. "The same place they do," said the moon.
The moon descends to Earth, passing fields of sheep, a church, a laundry and taverns, and ends up at a shop "where she had often tracked puddles of light." She goes in and a salesgirl provides several nightgowns to try. Many do not satisfy, but finally, she finds a blue flannel stitched with stars in the very last drawer of the shop. She loves it so much she wears it home, but it blocks her light from the people of the world, and they lose their way at night, forget their songs, and cry for the moon to return. The sun makes her promise to return the nightgown and she begrudgingly agrees, however, she decides to hide it away to wear every once in a while when she needs a night to herself.
"But the moon's promises, what are they worth? She took the nightgown off and she hid it in a drawer at the back of the sky. And on those nights when you see no moon, you can be sure she is trying it on and dreaming that she is back on earth, sleeping under the warmest featherbed in the world."
The warm luminosity of the illustrations and the poetry of the text make this book delicious. What a lovely bedtime story to read to children night after night, and lead their imaginations into sweet sleep.
GRADE LEVEL: K - 3