Beautiful Moon by Tonya Bolden Book Review

Beautiful Moon by Tonya Bolden
Illustrations by Eric Velasquez
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Release Date: November 4, 2014

Waking up, a young boy remembers that he needs to say his prayers. Kneeling by his bed, a beautiful harvest moon illuminating the city beyond, the boy offers up his prayers. Prayers for peace, the homeless, and the hungry.

I am not sure what I loved more about this book. The beautifully crafted illustrations, the fact that this child never asks for anything for himself, or the things that he prays for. Eric Velasquez is a fantastic illustrator. More than likely you are already familiar with his work, you have been seeing it for years on covers of Encyclopedia Brown and Apple Classics. Or perhaps you read A Thirst for Home that I reviewed last spring, or Houdini, The Sound That Jazz Makes, and The Other Mozart. Velasquez perfectly captures the beauty and solemnness of the text. I will admit, I teared up a bit while reading this story. This child doesn't pray for the newest toy he wants, he isn't forced to say his prayers by an adult who stands over him while he mumbles out something appeasing. This child gives a genuine prayer for those that need it. He prays for the homeless. Soldiers far from home. He remembers his family of course, but also the hungry. The poetic text is sparse, but perfectly encapsulates the beauty of one child's prayer. I also liked that this book has universal appeal as well, since no specific god or specific belief system is mentioned. A powerful picture book with an important outward focus.