It is wonderful when everything works together in a picturebook – theme, text, illustrations, cover, endpapers – when the whole art object is more than the sum of its parts. Luna Loves Library Day, the début by performance poet Joseph Coelho, illustrated by talented newcomer Fiona Lumbers, is such a picturebook.
Luna loves reading books and she looks forward to her weekly visit to the library with her dad. The simple sparse text conveys complex messages; of a family staying close while living apart, of the power of stories to explain and explore the world, and of the ordinary/extraordinary place that is the public library.
The main text avoids tortured rhymes, relying on rhythm and pace to give it its poetic feel, making it a pleasure to read aloud. The illustrations are vivid and beautiful, with the use of white space enhancing the colours and drawing the eye to many playful details. The author and illustrator clearly know and understand young children and their depiction here is entirely natural.
Though Luna and her dad enjoy their visits to the library and share a close bond, Luna wonders why Dad can’t be with her all the time. Coelho uses the ‘story within a story’ device, to explain this at a child’s level and ‘The Troll King and the Mermaid Queen’, in rhyming text, with a different font and colour palette, does a good job of explaining how, even though families don’t always stay together, they can always stay loving.
This is a love story for fathers and children, and for books and libraries.