Solita and the Purple Moon
by Miriam Isabel Elliott

"Oh, Purple Moon, I love you! Stay and be my friend. Hold on to my window until it is day again!"

A little girl named Solita lies awake in bed, alone and afraid. The moon appears from behind the clouds, speaking words of comfort through her bedroom window. The moon becomes purple, as that's the color she likes best. Night after night, the moon visits—sometimes appearing in different shapes, sometimes in the company of others. There are nights when the moon doesn't appear at all, and Solita cries herself to sleep. Sometimes it's waxing or waning and invites her into the night sky to travel over sea and land. When Solita returns to her room, the moon leaves to visit and comfort other scared little girls.

Told in verse and lavishly illustrated, Elliott's tale functions as a modern myth. The author captures the sense of enchantment peculiar to childhood but also its abiding sadness. The reader is told very little about the heroine (she's lonely, cries often, and her mother is frequently absent), but those few details instantly bring Solita to vivid life. The moon is presented as a reassuring but mischievous figure, evoking the mysterious fairy-like creatures of traditional folklore or the enigmatic nanny of the original Mary Poppins books. These evocations lend the story an undercurrent of eeriness that prevents it from becoming overly sentimental.

Like many great children's books, this one grasps that a child's relationship with authority figures is one of ambiguity and contradiction. To its credit, the book doesn't seek to resolve these contradictions but lets them linger at the margins of the story, provoking questions that are left unanswered. Elliott has created a wise book, resonant in its imagery, and shot through with mystery and magic.

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