Martin on the Moon


Martin on the Moon by Martine AudetAuthor: Martine Audet, Illustrated by Luc Melanson
Publisher: Owlkids Books (2012)
Number of Pages: 32
How long it took me to read: about 10 minutes, with my four-year-old daughter
Where I got this book: borrowed from the library
ISBN: 978-1-92697-316-6

Like a Moth to a Flame

I saw this book on Kirkus Reviews and I thought, “Holy cow, this kid is my daughter.” It’s about a little boy who spends his time drawing, making up poems and daydreaming. Yep, that’s her. It’s about how his first day of school starts with a few nerves and ends up being a happy experience, thanks to an open-minded, creative teacher. My kid is a year away from kindergarten, but I figure it’s not too early to get her used to the idea of school, and I like the thought of doing that while encouraging her to use her imagination.

Favorite Five

I propose that the top 5 quotes from this book are:

5. “ ‘A lot of people think that poems are silly,’ Mum Mum told me. ‘But actually, they’re like kisses, tiny little nothings that mean so much!’ ” (p.22)

4. “ ‘When it rains, it looks like someone is coloring in the sky and going outside the lines,’ I said.” (p.18)

3. “I wonder what the teacher’s name is…She has gray hair the same color as my cat Happy.” (p.6)

2. “…I start telling everyone about the waves in the river and how they kiss the riverbanks, and about Mum Mum’s kisses, and the other kisses that I miss, like the kisses from my cat Happy, who died last summer…” (p.28)

…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…

1. “Scared giggles, silly giggles, like my friend Athena’s giggles. I love her butterfly giggles! Once I almost caught one with my camera!” (p.13)

Conversation with the Reader

While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:

“Though I got this book thinking of my daughter, it’s actually reminding me more of myself in primary school. That mix of boredom and curiosity I felt being in a classroom for the first time comes up vividly as I read this. After running free in preschool and kindergarten, it was a big adjustment to suddenly have to sit at a desk for most of the day in first grade. I was an observant child, and even though I would get tired of sitting for so long, I enjoyed having the opportunity to watch everyone in the classroom. They were all sitting in one place for once! I remember wondering about the other kids as Martin does. I’d look at the way people were dressed, how they sat, whether they squirmed or paid attention, and think about why they were that way. That was as educational as anything the teacher taught me. I learned how people were different and the same, and that helped me to determine my own place in the world.

“My daughter doesn’t seem to be quite as enchanted by the book. She’s listening quietly, but I’m not getting those signs that tell me she is truly engaged. When she really likes a book, she grins the same way she does when she’s proud. It’s as if the book is paying her a compliment. She also asks questions and makes comments about the story if she’s interested. I’m wondering if she’s not able to connect with the book because she’s never been in an elementary school classroom before preschool is so different.”

“Martin’s daydreams are beautiful—so detailed and full of those little quirks that come with a wandering mind. They really seem like the thoughts of a child. I still drift into thoughts like his: memories of childhood trips, especially driving down the west coast of the US to visit my cousin in California or going camping in Oregon, little catastrophes like my sister puking on her bear puppet when she got car sick, eating grilled cheese sandwiches and pickles at roadside diners. Usually this happens when I’ve got an article due and I’m having trouble focusing on luxury travel, cartoon fairies or whatever is on my plate that day.”

“I like how the text changes tone, from describing a river ‘as smooth as glass’ to describing how it sometimes ‘smells yucky.’ It captures the surreal poetry and attraction to grossness you find in a lot of kids that age. Basically, they’re open, creative and addicted to poop talk. I noticed that my daughter perked up when I said ‘yucky.’ It was like I was suddenly speaking her language. It was easier for her to grasp something earthy like that than the idea of a camera catching a giggle.”

“Instead of scolding Martin for daydreaming, the teacher turns it into a teachable moment for the whole class. I’ve got chills. Where can I find a teacher like this for my child? I keep hearing about the obstacles that teachers face today, from growing class sizes to excessive focus on high standardized test scores. It makes me wonder how much space there is for creativity in the classroom. Would even the most open-minded teacher find it difficult to allow kids to take the lead from time-to-time in an environment like this? It seems like such a stressful job. I haven’t begun to look at kindergartens for my daughter yet, but this book has got me thinking about my dreams for her. I’d like her to have a teacher who encourages her to be creative and listen to her thoughts. I don’t just want her to be trained to take tests. If she’s exercising her brain by embracing her imagination, I think she’d do better with things like reading, math and science anyway. It would be as if she was learning how to use the full capacity of her mind.”

“I’m way more into this book than my daughter is. When I asked if she liked it, she said she wanted to read Stan the Hot Dog Man again. The things I love about this book, like the clever language and the unusual drawings, don’t speak to her yet. When she sees a row of desks sitting by a river, it doesn’t seem strange to her, because she’s never seen desks in a classroom. She likes a good plot—something clear and straightforward. This book meanders, which ironically is exactly what she does in real life. I think she prefers meandering on her own terms. When I read her something like Stan the Hot Dog Man, she can easily remember the story, because it moves from point A to B. Marvin on the Moon goes from A to X, then it takes a detour around Q. My daughter will take a straightforward story, memorize it and then tell me her own version, which can include kitties driving the food van and hotdogs dancing on the seat. Basically, she makes a lot of detours around Q on her own.”

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