Bedtime Stories highlights Children’s Books with a diverse, global perspective.
For one little Ugandan boy, no wish is too big. First he dreams of reaching the stars and then of riding a supernova straight to Mars! But on a rain day at his grandfather’s house, he is brought down to earth with a bump. Do adventures only happen in galaxies far away or can he find magic a little closer to home?
Sing to the Moon is the second book written by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl and illustrated by Sandra van Doorn that I have reviewed for this column and I instantly fell in love again with the sublime partnership between Isdahl’s gentle rhymes and van Doorn’s dreamlike illustrations.
Sing to the Moon is not dissimilar to Isdahl’s last story, Sleep Well, Siba & Saba, in that this follows a child into their imagination but then reminds them, with just a nudge, that reality can be amazing too. In this story, a little boy wakes from his dreams to the seemingly endless monotony of the Ugandan rainy season, but he soon discovers that perhaps his imagination is not the only place that one can experience wondrous adventures. The boy and his Jjajja, his grandfather, perform what, in any other story, might be complete mundane tasks, but Isdahl, through Jjajja, elevates them with stories of Jjajja’s own childhood, history, astronomy, the outdoors, and adventure, all while still firmly rooted in Uganda. And, meanwhile, the bond between the boy and his Jjajja is so touching that it made me weep in memory of my own grandparents. Through Isdahl’s words and van Doorn’s illustrations, the bond between these two is palpable and resonant.
Sing to the Moon is the perfect reminder that dreams are important, but so is the world right in front of you. Suitable for children ages 4-8.