The Moon Keeper

h1 April 30th, 2020 by jules

“Each night the moon grows bigger and bigger, until …”


Today, I’ve got some illustrations from The Moon Keeper (HarperCollins, March 2020), written and illustrated by an artist named Zosienka. This is her debut as both author and illustrator. Born in South Africa to Polish and English parents, she studied graphic design in London and, in addition to illustration, does stop-motion animation and print design. The Moon Keeper is the story of a bear, named Emile, who is one of many night creatures chosen to perform a particular task. Emile discovers he is the new moon keeper, and he is honored.

Emile prepares and then climbs “ninety-three steps up the ladder to meet the moon” at dusk. He tends to the moon for several nights, clearing away clouds and even shooing away bats. He even starts to talk to the moon. When he notices the moon change, beginning with its reduction in size, he is alarmed. The changes are “slight,” and he watches closely, even sketching what he sees. He doesn’t feel prepared for these sudden changes and quizzes the moon, trying to determine if it’s sad and if it’s had enough to eat. When the moon becomes so thin that “it’s no thicker than a thread,” Emile despairs: “I’ve lost the moon,” he tells a green bird who joins him. “I was supposed to protect it, but I don’t know how to make it stay.” The bird’s response is a wise and quite poignant one, but I won’t ruin it for you.

Not only is this a tender, touching story about one very determined, awestruck friend, but needless to say that children reading it, who have already covered the phases of the moon in school, will love being one-up on the protagonist here. Zosienka’s elegant, fine-lined illustrations are rendered via gouache and colored pencils. This is a palette of deep, night-sky blues, rich greens, and occasional pops of beautiful crimson shades. Leaping off the page atop all of this is dear Emile.

Here are some more illustrations. …


“Up in the sycamore tree, Emile introduces himself. The moon is beautiful and round.
Emile has never looked at the moon this way before,
and he realizes just now magnificent it is.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“There isn’t a lot to do, but Emile finds the moon nice to talk to
in the stillness of the night.”

(Click illustration, which is sans text, to enlarge)


Two images above: Click the first to see the spread in its entirety


(Click cover to enlarge)


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THE MOON KEEPER. Copyright © 2020 by Zosienka. Illustrastions reproduced by permission of the publisher, Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York.

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