Friday, February 22, 2013

Under a silver moon by Anne Fine

This is a perfect early chapter book.  I am always on the look out for short (this book has 58 pages) illustrated (this book has brilliant line drawings by Lotte Klaver) and engrossing stories which can be read by young students in Grades 1 to 3.

As it says on the back cover "In a hot land far, far away, two baby boys were born under the same silver moon."  These two boys, however, could not be more different.  One is the son of the hard working gardener.  His name is Akil.  The other is the Sultan's son. His name is Haroun, Lord of the rolling desert Sands, Mirror of Stars and Heir to all Gifts and Wonders.

In scenes reminiscent of the Prince and the Pauper - Haroun and Akil become playmates and for a short time they enjoy an idyllic childhood then one day they are separated.  Akil must work with his father in the gardens and learn his trade and Harou must learn to live like a sultan.  For Haroun this mainly involves sitting around, lying around and eating.  Over time Haroun becomes fat and quite ill from inactivity.  It is the wise gardener and his son Akil who devise a miraculous cure for the young Sultan.

"Somewhere in your palace garden ... hidden under the stony soil, there lies a magic key. A spell is on it, and the moment this key lies in your son's hand, he will be cured of all his pains....There is one problem. Only the person who finds the key can have the good health it brings."

This book feels like an old fairy tale or fable - perhaps an ancient Chinese folk tale because it contains simple and important wisdom about the choices we make in our lives.

After reading Under a silver moon you might also enjoy Kumiko series.  Here is a detailed review.

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