Tag Archives: firefly

Day 181 – Sam and the Firefly

fireflyToday we read a cautionary tale about the dangers of taking a joke just a little too far. First published in 1958, “Sam and the Firefly” by P.D. Eastman is ultimately an engaging story about friendship and redemption – with a side of drama!

Sam is an owl who wakes at night to find everyone else asleep. He cannot find anyone to play with but a firefly named Gus. At first they have fun with the discovery that Gus can use his tail light to write words in the sky; Gus proves a prolific sky-writer. He writes “Gus and Sam”…”Fish” and “Wish”…”House” and “a Mouse”…”Yes”…”No”…even “Kangaroo” and “Thermometer!”

Gus is excited with his new-found skill, but it soon becomes clear that things are getting out of hand. When Gus jets off to an intersection and begins scrawling competing instructions in the sky, he causes a big car crash. Then he gets airplanes all crossed up by doing the same thing high in the sky – all the time pursued by an increasingly dismayed Sam.

After causing a stampede at the movie theater by scrawling “Come in! Free show” in bright lights above the marquee, Gus finally pushes his luck too far.  He changes “Hot Dogs” to “Cold Dogs” on a hot dog vendor’s stand – and the vendor manages to catch him and put him in a jar! Sam desperately wants to free his friend, but does not know how. As the man drives Gus back out into the country, the man’s car gets stuck on some train tracks…and a train is coming! In the nick of time, Sam fetches the jar, frees Gus, and has him write “Stop, Stop, Stop, Stop” in front of the train. The train stops, and the car is saved! Gus has learned an important lesson, and he and Sam continue to be friends…playing every night, but no more bad tricks.

“Sam and the Firefly” has some outstanding illustrations – simple but with a charming, vintage feel. There is just enough danger to keep little listeners engaged, and some repetition and rhyming that might be nice for beginning readers. Overall, an excellent choice for read aloud…it has been read many times in our house.

Day 76 – Sun and Moon

“Sun and Moon” by Lindsey Yankey presents a variation on the old adage that the grass always appears to be greener on the other side of the fence. Adorned with boldly colored and richly detailed illustrations, it is a lovely story about learning to appreciate the beauty that is already all around you.sun moon

The moon has spent his lifetime in the dark and he feels as though his world is too often lonely and boring. He imagines all the dazzling things that the sun must see on his journeys across the sky, and he wishes that for just one day he could trade places with his daytime counterpart. The sun agrees, but with two conditions: the trade will be irrevocable, and before he makes his decision, the moon “…must spend an entire night in the sky looking very closely at the earth – closer than (he) ever has before.”

The moon is thrilled and agrees to the sun’s conditions, expecting that he will see nothing from his place in the night sky that will change his mind. Instead, he observes (or rediscovers) in his midnight world all manner of enchanting scenes that would never present themselves in the daylight. He watches the “vibrant life of a nighttime carnival”,  foxes heading out to hunt, children dreaming, a family of raccoons on the prowl, and booming fireworks that remind him of wildflowers he has only ever seen in his dreams. Perhaps most moving, however, is his sudden appreciation of the stars: “he hadn’t paid much attention to (them) before, but now they were all around him, so near he could even hear them smile.” By the end of the tale, the moon has learned his lesson. He wishes “for nothing more than to spend the rest of his nights enjoying the exciting and wonderful things that (come) to life in his moonlight.”

Based on what we have learned so far this year about the process of getting a book published, I am especially impressed at writers who are their own illustrators. The two jobs are difficult enough on their own, but Ms. Yankey has managed to do both, to great effect. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is an endearing parable, with imagery and artwork that effectively convey an appreciation for the tranquil beauty of the moon’s nighttime world.