Shulamith Levey Oppenheim


new work
Cyd Moore Illustration  from What is the Full Moon Made of?

What is the Full Moon Full Of?

What is the Full Moon Full Of?

Illustrated by Cyd Moore
1997, Boyds Mill Press

It was an early evening in mid-October. I was wheeling my grandson Noah slowly down a hill near his home in Maine. He was two and a half years old at the time. Before us was a harvest moon, huge, full, "awesome" in today's parlance.

"Look, Noah," I said. I stopped and pointed to the glorious orb before us. "It's a full moon tonight."

In less than a finger snap Noah turned to me and asked, "What is the full moon full of, Nana?"

Oh, oh, I thought. It begins. Statements that we adults take without scrutiny are, of course, taken literally by children. And why not? Why "full" moon? Why not whole moon? After all, we say quarter or half to describe other phases of the moon. Should it not then be "whole" moon?

If I recall, I answered rather limply. "Let's think about it, Noah. Let's think what the full moon could be full of." And so this picture book came into being.

As I mused and teased the story into shape, there were two tales to tell. Why do we say "full," or "What is the full moon full of?" The first belonged to the adult world, I decided, at least for the moment. It was my re-realization that with children, we'd better consider carefully what we say and be prepared to back it up, to defend it! The second was Noah's, the child's story, the one and all the ones for children, that is< closest to my heart.

And that's the one I've written.


A gentle story of a magical moment shared by a grandmother and her grandson, Jonas. On a nighttime stroll beneath the full moon, the boy wonders aloud what the full moon is full of. A red squirrel votes for nuts, a cow for milk and cream, a robin for worms, a frog for flies, a bear cub for honey, and a firefly for light. Quietly yet effectively, the tale builds to the final, most important question: What does Jonas think the full moon is full of? Moore's watercolor and colored-pencil drawings realistically capture the peace of a quiet walk in the moonlight as they winsomely illustrate the youngster's imaginary conversations with the various animals. They extend the story with fanciful depictions of a sky full of floating cows, a frog resting his feet on Saturn's rings, milk and cream pouring from a trap door in the moon, and the bright green striped pajama-clad boy enjoying the zero gravity of outer space. The large format and full-page illustrations make this an excellent choice for storytimes
--School Library Journal

When Jonas asks, "What is the full moon full of?" everyone seems to have a different answer. The squirrel thinks it is stuffed with nuts; the firefly is certain it is filled with light; the cow insists it is loaded with milk and cream ("That's why the moon is white"); his grandmother thinks it is filled with faces. But Jonas has his own theory, which, of course, makes the most sense of all. Moore's pictures are lighthearted and goofy--worms wiggle from moon portals, trees are red, and frogs wear pants--and there's lot of busy, colorful activity to keep children amused as they try to answer Jonas' question for themselves.
-- from Booklist