Book Review: How the Moon Regained Her Shape

Available en English and Spanish

Author: Janet Ruth Heller, PhD

Illustrator: Ben Hodson

How the Moon Regained Her Shape


This book is a wonderful addition to any library for so many reasons, First, it is a wonderful Native American folktale explaining how the phases of the moon came to be. The round moon happily danced across the sky until one day she danced across the sun and eclipsed it. The sun became angry and belittled her. She shrunk herself and slithered across the sky until there was almost nothing left of her. One day she meets a comet who suggests that she visit his friend Round Arms on earth. Round Arms is a kindly Native American woman who takes Moon to visit with friends who miss her appearance in the night sky. She meets a painter, some rabbits and dancers. They convince Moon that she is a valued friend and encourage her to return home to her place in the sky. Now when someone insults her, she remembers her friends on earth and is encouraged to be brave and grow again to her former self.

Children and adults will readily appreciate the relationship of this folktale to bullying. The angry sun caused the moon to lose her self esteem and in that process hurt not only her feelings but those who depended on her. There is a page detailing the ways a child can deal with bullies included at the end of the story. The language of the story flows along. You get the message without being overpowered by it. The hundred women who danced and sang express their hope in a beautiful poem. The reader learns about good and bad feelings and how to deal with them.

Yet there is still much more to be learned from this book. At the end of the text readers will find a chart containing the names that Native Americans used for the moon during the calendar year. There is a “Creative Mind” activity encouraging children to expand their knowledge of the moon’s phases. Parents and teachers are given the publisher’s website on which there is a treasure trove of information. You can look up how the book coincides with the common core standards of your state. Under the Language Arts section, there are questions to activate prior knowledge and comprehension questions for assessment after reading. There is a list of suggested vocabulary words and instructions on how to make a word wall, sentence strips and writing prompts. For math, educators are given activities to calculate relative size of earth and moon as well as distance to the moon. A science journal allows the student to draw pictures of the moon in its phases and note the date and time of the month. Students might even want to use the map to record where in the world the moon is located at a point in time. Finally, there are even quizzes in reading and math to measure the results of knowledge acquired.

To sum up, this book may be used on many different levels and for many different reasons, For younger children it is a picture book read aloud. I would caution that an adult may need to guide the child. The illustrations are beautifully done in mixed media in muted colors, but the facial expressions are strong and stylized which could frighten a young child who is not given a clear explanation of the story. Target audience for the book is children aged six through ten. Parents, classroom teachers and homeschooling parents will find this book well worth their investment. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it.