My mother loves to look out at the moon. Our family text chat history displays many, many, many slightly grainy, weirdly zoomed, yet lovingly curated images of that silvery orb in the sky. She won’t hesitate to stop traffic to capture that nightly photo, or to pick up the phone and cajole her children to take a peek outside as the day concludes. If you know my mother, this is the type of woman that that sets her weather notifications to all of the different cities that her children not only reside in, but may be visiting if even for a day! Thus, it’s fitting that she takes incredible delight in knowing that no matter where her family is, we are all looking at the same moon in that vast sky blanketing the Earth. I will say, it is a pretty incredible marvel.
The moon has played an incredibly perceptible symbol throughout literature for years and years, particularly in folktales. The Greek mythological figure Serene may have had many… ahem… romantic dalliances, but she was also known to lead with the power of her intuition. Dare I say that Selene was able to guide others who may feel in the dark towards a clarifying light? Chang’e, of Chinese mythology, would’ve taken Selene’s advice, as she sought out the moon following a stealthy escape from her husband once she’d stolen an elixir of immortality. I’d say that’s worth a risk. Meanwhile, I wonder if my mother knows that Diana, of Roman mythology, is revered as the protector of childbirth, connecting the phases of the moon to the development of pregnancy months. These cannot simply be coincidences here people!
Daughter of the Moon Goddess, by Sue Lynn Tan, is a hot-off-the-press YA novel inspired by precisely by Chang’e and her legends, set from the perspective of her daughter, Xingyin. With this culture in mind, how could I ever leave out Grace Lin’s fabulous middle grade novel, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon? Minli’s quest to visit the sage ‘Old Man of the Moon’ and help provide for her family was inspired by similar Chinese tales. The other two stories are a bit less overt to the moon theme. Isabel Allende’s Eva Luna utilizes her power as a storyteller to expose the triumphs and struggles of Latin America in the 1950s. Jannell Cannon’s Stellaluna depicts a fruit bat rising to nonconforming friendships as she befriends (gasp!)… a bird. Luna, meaning moon in Spanish, feels like an aptly chosen name for one looking to shine a light on the world’s injustices, if I do say so myself…. You might groan at my puns, but I know one woman who loves them! Thank you Mom.