Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Review - Sun & Moon Take Turns

Sun & Moon Take Turns
by Lili Debarbieri
illustrated by Katie Wools
Date: 2019
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

When the daytime and nighttime animals on Earth get tired of Sun and Moon's constant bickering over who should rule the world, they hold competitions--a cookout and a race--to determine the winner once and for all. But when neither the "night" team nor the "day" team wins in a fair way, how will they fix their problem? This beautifully illustrated story teaches kids respect for nature's rhythms and each other. It includes a guide that helps parents and teachers explain the science of Earth's day-and-night cycles in simple language.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a confusing little book! First, we get a strange sort of creation story about how the sun and the moon fight over who gets to be up in the sky and create day or night. Then we get a long, rambling author's note full of repetition and iffy facts that basically negates the whole premise of the fictional story! It's confusing to see a story that tells the reader that day and night are created by the sun and moon wanting to stay in the sky longer... and then reading the author's note that tells the reader that day and night are created by the rotation of the Earth.

As a creation story, it doesn't work because the animals and their lives are too modern. (They use bottled hot sauce and walk around carrying picket signs.) It also doesn't work because of the notes at the end; they just confuse the issue. I have no problem with fantasy explaining a natural phenomenon (see Grace Lin's A Big Mooncake for Little Star for a wonderful example of this type of story); it's when the book turns around and negates the fantasy that I have a problem with. Why should I bother reading the fiction part at all if I'm just going to be told that's not how it works after all?

This might've worked if the Earth had been brought in as a character to point out that she's the one who's really creating the days and nights. But it's left up to the animals to bicker and argue about it, even though it's not even about them. All they do is compete for the privilege of telling the sun or moon it's going to be in the sky all the time, controlling the days and nights. It's a weird premise to begin with, and it's not done particularly well, either.

The facts in the author's note are simplified to the point of inaccuracy. And there are a few instances of repetition that should've been caught by an editor.

I'm afraid I can't recommend this one. It doesn't work as either a creation story or a non-fiction title... so, for me, it doesn't really work at all.

Thank you to NetGalley and Schiffer Publishing for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.17 out of 5

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