Moonlight, The Halloween Cat (by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet) is a new book at my house. Our neighbor brought it over the other day to read to my kids, and while she was reading, this line caught my ear:
Moonlight walks the night.
She sees lights going off in the houses.
Now only pumpkins will shine.
The language was so simple and poetic, I stopped what I was doing to listen to the rest of the book. The language reminds me of Margaret Wise Brown. Simple words, simple motion, a repetition that feels like rocking. The language is easy and elegant here. It tells the story of Moonlight, a cat whose favorite night is Halloween:
She walks, soft and black,
Over the grass, along the fences,
Through the trees.
There’s something very cozy about the book. I’m not sure how, exactly, a book about a black cat prowling around on Halloween night manages to feel cozy—but I think it has something to do with the simple and pleasant description of her travels.
Pumpkins smile at her.
Straw laps welcome her.
And children are out.
Moonlight loves children.
She follows them, but they don’t see her.
She is black, like the night.
It’s fun to think about what cats might do and where they might go after people are all tucked in. It’s immensely soothing to think of raccoons and bunnies and owls going about their nighttime business after the stars are out. Moonlight also feels so at ease moving through the night air. It’s clear there’s nothing to be afraid of, even on Halloween.
Part of the cozy feeling also comes from the beautiful illustrations. The colors are so rich, and there’s so much contrast. The night sky is a deep, brilliant blue, the jack-o-lanterns are a cheerful orange, and the yellow light just seems to overflow from the houses’ windows—balancing the cool darkness of Moonlight’s travels with all the promise of warmth and brightness waiting at home.