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BOOK REVIEWS


MULTIGENERATIONAL STORY. Ladder to the Moon is author Maya Soetoro-Ngís first childrenís book.

From The Asian Reporter, V23, #02 (January 21, 2013), page 11.

Full, soft, and curious

Ladder to the Moon

By Maya Soetoro-Ng

Illustrations by Yuyi Morales

Candlewick Press, 2011

Hardcover, 38 pages, $16.99

By Josephine Bridges

The Asian Reporter

When little Suhaila asks her mother what her Grandma Annie was like, her mother tells her, "She was like the moon Ö Full, soft, and curious. Your grandma would wrap her arms around the whole world if she could." That night, as moonlight and the sound of crickets come in through Suhailaís window, a golden ladder appears at the sill. "Do you want an adventure, my dimpled child?" asks Suhailaís grand- mother, standing on the lowest rung.

Most of Ladder to the Moon takes place on the moon, where Suhaila and Grandma Annie look back toward earth and see some troubling and some encouraging sights:

"A fifty-foot wave was sweeping from the ocean to the land, and through swirling waters, swimmers struggled up toward the surface." When Annie suggests inviting the cold, exhausted children to the moon, Suhaila readily agrees, and the little ones leap "high like flying fish" to the comfort of the moon.

"On the ground below, two sisters climbed down two tall towers that trembled and swayed on quaking soil." When she worries they may not be able to find their way, Annie reassures her, and "Sure enough, Suhaila watched the sisters weave a shimmering spiral and begin to climb."

No sooner does Annie tell Suhaila, "I feel faith moving the air down there," that Suhaila spots "people whose hands pointed upward from a synagogue, a temple, a mosque, and a steepled church. One by one, every person was finding his or her own path to the moon."

Finally a newborn baby boy and his grandmother make the climb, and it isnít long before things begin to change back on earth, to which itís time for Suhaila to return with quite a story to tell her mother.

Maya Soetoro-Ngís daughter Suhaila was born a decade after the childís grandmother, a storyteller, died, so the author decided to "unite grandmother and grandchild through a story." Itís a fine idea, and perhaps other children who have never had the opportunity to meet their grandparents can read Ladder to the Moon and be inspired to find their own stories.

Yuyi Morales knew that she was meant to illustrate this book as soon as she read the manuscript, but she had to answer several questions, beginning with, "What does faith look like?" before she could find images to accompany the words to which she felt such a connection. Her illustrations, like Grandma Annie, are "Full, soft, and curious," and exactly right.

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