Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Author’s shining example

Maybe the Moon
Festival Hub

IT was an early start on a Sunday morning for a literary event, but not for those with young children.

Henley was bright and cold but the festival hub was warm and busy with lots of children, babies and bleary-eyed parents.

The children were excited — there were brightly coloured beanbags on the floor, blank flipcharts waiting to be drawn on, and pots of colouring pens. In the middle of it all sat Frances Ives, the author and illustrator of Maybe the Moon.

She was already busy as she sketched Eric, her main character, on one of the flipcharts. The children gathered around. My little girl bounced on to a beanbag.

Frances, her voice lullaby soft, started telling her story and the children listened as she read about Eric, who is happy living in the forest with his mum and lots of (beautifully illustrated) animal friends, until he has to move to the city.

The book turns grey, dark even. Eric is sad. But there is the moon, we learn, and the refrain from the book — Maybe the moon, so high above, Is shining on me and the friends I love — is a lesson for us all.

My little girl left her beanbag when the story ended and joined the others to help colour the flipcharts. She said she was drawing snakes and so Frances, laughing, also drew a snake for her.

In fact she made her way around the room talking to all the children, drawing with them or for them, signing books and answering questions.

Frances is the perfect children’s author and illustrator. She was engaging and gentle and, even though her book is all about the moon, she was extremely down to earth.

Bleary-eyed parents were wide awake by the end, some coloured in with their children, or chatted, or flicked through the book admiring the wonderful drawings.

I watched my little girl get excited at her first literary event and saw, not only in her, but in all the children, a real love for books and art. It was a relaxed event, not chaotic, but sweet and enchanting.

Laura Healy

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