Parent and Child magazine recently named I Took the Moon for a Walk one of the 100 Greatest Books for Kids, which makes us, well, over the moon with happiness! Today we’re pleased to share with you an interview with Carolyn Curtis, author of I Took the Moon for a Walk. Read on to learn about her inspiration for the story, songs based on her book and more!

Q: Where did you get the idea for the story?
Inspiration is everywhere—even in our mistakes! I first got the idea for I Took the Moon for a Walk because of a fortunate mistake: I misread a calendar that featured daily ideas for family activities. Glancing at it, I read one entry as “take the moon for a walk with your kids”—which I thought was a really cool, unique suggestion! When I looked at the calendar later, I saw that it actually said “talk about the moon with your kids.”

The idea of taking the moon for a walk stuck with me. How magical, how empowering! The line “I took the moon for a walk” had so many elements of poetry built into it that I quickly started to hear the poem that went along with it.

Q: Who is the boy featured in the story? Is he based on a real person?
Well, you’ll notice that the “I” in the text doesn’t have a gender, and that’s for several reasons. First, “I” is immediate and personal. ”I” also works well with the poetry, and I love the image of one small person befriending the large, luminous moon. ”I” also doesn’t exclude anyone from the experience. So the text doesn’t specify just who “I” is!

It was Alison Jay, our extraordinary illustrator, who painted the narrator as a boy. I actually don’t know why she chose to create a boy; that’s a good question! But I’m glad she did, because my nephew Christopher was the inspiration for some of the narrator’s adventures. When Chris was a preschooler, he loved to take nighttime walks though our town, down to the train station and back home again, accompanied by his mom and grandmother. As I wrote, I thought about their travels and imagined the things Chris would share with the moon.

Alison also painted the boy as a red-head. My son Lucan, who was about a year old when Barefoot Books accepted my manuscript for publication, is a red-head! So, although he wasn’t born when the text was originally written, he feels a special connection to the boy, too.

Since Alison didn’t know about either Chris or Lucan at the time she was illustrating, we like to think it was kismet or divine tinkering at work!

Q: We’ve heard there was a song written about I Took the Moon for a Walk; can you share some more about that?
There are actually TWO songs (that I am aware of!) that use the text as their lyrics.  I am so fortunate; both are written by sensitive, talented artists. What is truly amazing to me is that these musicians, from different sides of the world, read the same words and heard such different music.

Mark Erelli is a singer-songwriter from Massachusetts. He came across I Took the Moon for a Walk when he was looking for cover art for his lullaby CD, Innocent When You Dream.  When he read it, he heard a blues-tinged waltz that is both lush and romantic. It’s not written specifically for children, but it is entrancing. You can’t help but imagine that you are dancing in a moon-lit grove when you hear it. His beautiful song appears on his CD Little Vigils, which explores, among other things, Charles Darwin’s spiritual crisis and Mark’s own feelings as a new dad. Mark invited me and my family to one of his gigs, and I don’t have the words to describe how it felt to hear the song performed live.

The other song was written by the renowned Australian composer Calvin Bowman. His version, which is not yet available for purchase, is exquisite; its many layers capture the whimsy and wonder of the book, which he discovered when his wife bought it for their young son. I was honored when Calvin contacted me, asking to see more of my work. As a result, he has also set my unpublished picture book manuscript We Danced with the Moon by the Sea to music. Perhaps one day we’ll continue the collaboration and create an entire CD of lunar lullabies!

Q: What do you think of when you look at the moon?
That depends upon the moment! Love, loneliness, serenity, longing, connections, distances, mystery, magic. Most often I look at the moon as a treasured friend who has played a very special role in my life; it feels like we share a secret.

Q: My parenting style can be summarized in these three words:
Oh, only three? Okay, I’ll try…evolving, fumbling, hopeful. Can I add more? Loving. Goofy. Grateful. Hmmm…now I’ll be obsessed with this question for days!

Q: I Took the Moon for a Walk was very recently chosen as a Top 100 Children’s Book by Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine. What goes through your head when you think about how the story has been part of thousands of children’s bedtime routines since it was published in 2004?
First of all, many thanks to Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine. It’s so exciting that my book is “sharing a shelf” with beloved books such as Owl Moon, The House at Pooh Corner and Sarah, Plain and Tall.

It’s pretty overwhelming and humbling to know that children and adults all over the world are enjoying it. It’s a wonderful reminder of how similar we are, of how connected we are. No matter what our cultural differences, we all look up in wonder at the same moon. The words may have been written by an American woman, the illustrations may reflect Alison’s English countryside, but the affection for the moon is global.

And to be part of one of our most intimate and cherished family rituals….Bedtime stories hold a special place in our hearts. Favorites are often shared from generation to generation. To hear from so many families that I Took the Moon for a Walk is the book they choose night after night is an indescribable gift.

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