Lothian Books, Hachette, Australia, 2022
Text and illustrations by Susannah Crispe
Design: Kirby Armstrong
Under the Moonlight is the first of Susannah Crispe’s books as both writer and illustrator, though she has been illustrator for a number before. It is a gentle story, aimed at putting fear of the dark unknown in its rightful place.
The rhyming text is lilting, the paintings skilfully composed and brimming with details to delight young audiences.
Set in a snowy Sandinavian landscape in autumn, this story presents a big moose as its hero. Big though he is, he is spooked by a noise in the night which he cannot identify. Like all of us, he is nervous of the unknown – this is something both parents and children will understand.
Susannah takes us with Moose through the birch forest as he hears all sorts of scary noises from creatures like wolves, owls and bears, but none turns out to be the one close by that is so very terrifying.
The illustrations are quietly humorous, showing Moose’s frayed nerves as he tries and tries to get to the bottom of the frightening noise. The forest backgrounds are very beautiful as are the wonderful endpapers (I do love a good endpaper).
The resolution is both a lesson and a relief – it’s easy to draw the wrong conclusion when we are afraid, but so, so comforting when we face the fear and learn the truth.
Susannah Crispe is a sensitive and perspicacious children’s book creator and this one is bound to be the first of many successes.
Thank you to Hachette for my review copy and to Susannah for speaking with me about this lovely, gentle book.