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Ladder to the Moon
Cover of Ladder to the Moon
Ladder to the Moon
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Features an audio read-along performed by the author, Maya Soetoro-Ng. From Maya Soetoro-Ng, sister of President Obama, comes a lyrical story relaying the loving wisdom of their late mother to a young...
Features an audio read-along performed by the author, Maya Soetoro-Ng. From Maya Soetoro-Ng, sister of President Obama, comes a lyrical story relaying the loving wisdom of their late mother to a young...
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Description-

  • Features an audio read-along performed by the author, Maya Soetoro-Ng. From Maya Soetoro-Ng, sister of President Obama, comes a lyrical story relaying the loving wisdom of their late mother to a young granddaughter she never met. Little Suhaila wishes she could have known her grandma, who would wrap her arms around the whole world if she could, Mama says. And one night, Suhaila gets her wish when a golden ladder appears at her window, and Grandma Annie invites the girl to come along with her on a magical journey. In a rich and deeply personal narrative, Maya Soetoro-Ng draws inspiration from her mother's love for family, her empathy for others, and her ethic of service to imagine this remarkable meeting. Evoking fantasy and folklore, the story touches on events that have affected people across the world in our time and reaffirms our common humanity. Yuyi Morales's breathtaking artwork illuminates the dreamlike tale, reminding us that loved ones lost are always with us, and that sometimes we need only look at the moon and remember.

About the Author-

  • Born in Mexico and raised among giant grandmothers, mossy house walls, and rampaging feral gardens, Yuyi Morales fostered a strong bond with the magical stories that ran in her family. Sinceimmigrating to the USA in 1994, she has drawn from her family's legacy and her heritage to create some of the most celebrated Latino works for children's books.

    Yuyi is the multiple winner of Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration, given to a Latino illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

    Some of other recognitions to her work include the Américas Award, the Golden Kite Award, the Christopher Award, the Jane Adams Children's Book Award, the California Book Award, and the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award won in 2004 and 2008.

    Asked about her work, Yuyi says, "I strive to capture the incredible beauty of the everyday forms and to use textures and colors as another way to reveal the heart of the story. I also pursue glow and luminosity with resolve. If I could ask for a talent, it would be to become a color genius."

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 21, 2011
    Soetoro-Ng and illustrator Morales (Floating on Mama's Song) collaborate on a vision of divine love, a love incarnated in a warm, round, brown-skinned grandmother. Soetoro-Ng (who is President Obama's half-sister) writes that the story sprang from a wish that her own mother had lived to meet her granddaughter. In the story, Suhaila's mother tells Suhaila about her Grandma Annie: "Your grandma would wrap her arms around the whole world if she could." That night, Annie appears outside Suhaila's bedroom window and leads her up a golden ladder to the moon, where, from their celestial vantage point, they invite those on Earth they see are bereaved or in need of sustenance up into the sky for healing and rest. Morales conjures these images with real power, painting worshippers of many races and faiths illuminated by candlelight, infants with wings, and softly padded women whose arms promise forgiveness. The phrase "she knew more than she had known before" is repeated like a mantra as Suhaila witnesses cycles of suffering and healing. Nontraditional spiritual literature for children often falters in the execution; this work fulfills its promise. Ages 4–8.

  • School Library Journal

    April 1, 2011

    Gr 3-5-Inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe's painting Ladder to the Moon and her mother's gift for storytelling, the author (Barak Obama's half sister) weaves a tale that introduces her daughter to her grandmother's concern for others and her cultural heritage. After Suhaila asks, "What was Grandma Annie like?" the woman descends a ladder outside her window and invites the child to climb to the Moon with her and listen to the songs of the world's peoples, taste their troubles, feel their faith, and see her connection to them. Together they invite all those in need to climb to the Moon, experience its healing light, and work together to make the world a better place. The full-spread, stunning illustrations, executed in acrylic and digitally manipulated, most often appear on backgrounds of varying shades of blue. Grandmother and child are shown in a warm embrace on the cover, and the woman is rendered larger-than-life throughout, as if her body could match her heart and wrap itself "around the whole world." This is a complex story that encompasses natural disasters and war, as well as major religious and cultural traditions. Morales depicts different kinds of worship, different ethnic groups telling their stories around a fire, and even a creation myth. Author and illustrator explanations in lengthy notes and on an accompanying CD are helpful, but readers will surely need additional discussion if they are to grasp the story's full import and discover, like Suhaila, their own responsibilities as citizens of the world.-Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT

    Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    March 1, 2011
    It's hard to imagine the child for whom this intentionally inspiring mystical fable will strike a chord. Idealistic adults, on the other hand, will love it. They'll see it as an opportunity to foster compassion and tolerance, to introduce the idea of feeling connected to family members who've passed away and to share Morales' lovely, folk-art-style illustrations. All of which are worthy goals. Unfortunately, debut author Soetoro-Ng's lengthy, abstract text seems destined to lose the interest of young listeners, preventing any of these aims from being achieved. Occasionally awkward phrasing ("her silver-bangled arms outstretched and tinkling") is distracting, though there are also some appealing images ("she tossed herself out of bed like a tumbleweed"). Still, children are more likely to spend their time wondering why (and how) the moon sings than following the meandering plot as Suhaila and her grandmother Annie magically travel to the moon and then share their sanctuary with those in need. Morales' beautiful, luminous paintings, with soft edges and gently rounded figures, go a long way toward making the sentimental story almost work as an imaginative adventure. Double-page spreads with lots of celestial blue provide plenty to pore over, while the textures visible in her paintings are likewise pleasing. Ultimately, though, the artwork isn't enough o prevent this achingly earnest and heartfelt effort from sinking under its own weight. Disappointing. (author's, illustrator's notes) (Picture book. 4-7)

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Booklist

    Starred review from March 1, 2011
    Grades K-3 *Starred Review* A lush, haunting story that brings together a grandmother and her grandchild. When Suhaila ask her mother, What was Grandma Annie like? the answer comes, She was like the moon . . . full, soft, and curious. And that night a ladder to the moon appears with Grandma Annie waiting to take Suhaila to the sky. Together they listen to moon songs, but then they hear other voices: swimmers struggling against high waves, and sisters in two swaying towers. All are invited to come and rest and drink sweet moondew from silver teacups. These experiences, especially observing so many on earth praying to make the fighting stop, have an effect on Suhaila, who now knows more than she had known before. Once home, Suhaila realizes she has changed, having helped others learn and heal. Soetoro-Ng, maternal half-sister of Barack Obama, has written this story of compassion as a tribute to their mother. Not every listener will understand the particulars or references, but the evocative words will wash over them, and they will respond to the expressed feelings of empathy and love. Its hard to imagine a more perfect illustrator for this text than Morales, whose rounded shapes, sunset colors, and softness and strength mirror the words. Morales captures the luminosity of both the sky and the people on earth striving and straining to make the world a better place. The endnotes by author and artist add insight into a book meant to be discussed.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

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