Thursday 10 May 2012

131. Under a Silver Moon by Anne Fine illustrated by Lotte Klaver

Under a Silver Moon by Anne Fine illustrated by Lotte Klaver
Published May 2012 Walker Books

From the publisher:

In a hot, faraway land, two baby boys are born under the same silver moon: Haroun, the son of the sultan, and Akil, the son of the gardener. As children they play together until one day Haroun has to learn princely ways. He is waited on hand and foot and all he can do for himself is eat, so every day he eats more and more and grows bigger and bigger. No doctors can offer a cure. But one day a hooded stranger tells Haroun that if he digs the garden he will find a key that will give him good health. After weeks of hard toil, Haroun doesn't find the key, but he does lose weight, and finds health and happiness once more.

This book reads like a traditional tale, but it is a modern fairytale or fable.  While the setting may be that of faraway lands, the message is relevant to all, no matter where you may live.

Two children, who do not know that their destinies will keep them apart, play, as children do, from dawn until dusk in the gardens.  Until the day when Haroun must spend his days learning to be a proper prince, and Akil must learn to be a proper gardener.  Princely ways mean that Haroun does nothing for himself, he spends a lot of time sitting and a lot of time eating, and this turns him into a very unhappy, unhealthy and round little boy.  Akil spends his days in the beauty of the garden, with his father, working hard, but is happy.  As Akil's Father says to him, "A man is happy not when his riches are many, but when his wants are few".

When the hooded stranger suggests that they key to Haroun's health lies in the gardens, the two boys once again spend their days in the gardens, not playing, but working o make the most beautiful garden they can.  Much to his annoyance, Haroun never finds a 'key' but realises that he is indeed healthy again, and Akil tells him that he has found the key, the key to good health.

While this book has the obvious message that it's not a good idea to spend your days sitting and eating with little or no activity, it is also a book about finding balance in life.  Haroun has no choice but to be a prince, but he does have the choice about how he spends his time. Just because there is someone there to do everything for you and you never have to life a finger doesn't mean that you have to let them.  Sometimes you need to do things for yourself, and get out there in the world and do things that make you happy, and maybe healthier too.

This is a chapter book, but it;s a quick read, only 59 pages and each page is illustrated.  While children will like the humour on the story, I think teachers and parents will like it as a fun way of introducing the concept of helathy lifestyles.

Who will like this book: Boys and girls age 7+
Read it if you like: a quick read with a good message.

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