Title: The Sorrow of a Crescent Moon
Author: J. Wagoner
Illustrations by: Mar Fandos
Pages: 66, Paperback
Genre: Children’s Book
Reviewed by: John Murray, Pacific Book Review
Book ReviewThey say no one escapes life unscathed. Unless you live in a hermetically sealed bubble, you will eventually earn some scars. For some, those scars accrue internally and can negatively affect their everyday life. Mental health is a serious issue with which many people struggle to live. Discussing such a topic might seem daunting to a parent, but “The Sorrow of a Crescent Moon” can be a valuable asset. Mar Fandos’ art is a welcome addition to this moral fable. The child-like sketches and simple color schemes work well at attracting the eye. Like the story itself, the artwork highlights heavier concepts than are usually found in children’s books. Coupled with the illustrations, the characters and realistic dialogue make “The Sorrow of a Crescent Moon” not only an engaging story but also helpful tool for parents wanting to discuss such issues with their children.
At its heart, “The Sorrow of a Crescent Moon” is the story of a bright young boy named Jaimie exploring New Orleans on a family trip. Jamie’s adventure takes an interesting twist when a woman gifts him a unique worry stone. With instructions to place the stone under his pillow while he sleeps, Jaime embarks on a wondrous journey. Each time he awakens, the stone displays a new word like family, regret, or hope. As he explores the city, he encounters people relevant to each word. Jamie actually encounters “shadow” versions of the people, seeming to be the emotional or spiritual essence. Each shadow-self reveals inner emotions, troubles, and issues to Jaime’s own shadow-self. As he learns about the emotional depths in others, he becomes aware of his own issues. The happy ending provides a fitting end to Jaime’s adventure in New Orleans without becoming contrived or forced.
“The Sorrow of a Crescent Moon” starts out a simple tale but veers into ghost story morality seamlessly and effortlessly. The story seems aimed at children and young adults but it delves into deep concepts. As the story progresses, Jaime confronts adult issues such as depression, death, homelessness, and more. J. Wagoner does a masterful job of keeping the tone light enough for children without pandering or watering down the message. Like any good fable, the story is accessible to all ages but filled with profound morality. “The Sorrow of a Crescent Moon” is quite simply a beautiful read that does what all great stories should, shine a light on the human condition and bring awareness to difficult subjects.