Italian cartoonist and filmmaker, Rino Alaimo describes himself as a dreamer who never gives up – no matter the odds. It is a mindset many prescribe to, me included and often with devastatingly (one always hopes, at least) great outcomes. Granted, great outcomes can take a while to harness successfully, as The Boy Who Loved the Moon depicts but when they are, watch out! The result is stellar and so is this picture book.
The Boy Who Loved the Moon is the type of picture book that may divide reader opinion. It is daring. It is simple. It is questioning and it is achingly beautiful. It exists because Alaimo adapted his own highly acclaimed short film, The Boy and The Moon and so fits in the same space as The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore, also a result of a remarkable short animation. Readers can view the film thanks to the QR code thoughtfully included in the jacket-sleeve. Much of the film’s integrity and mood is included in this story.
As a picture book, it shines, although ironically, the tale begins in almost total darkness with only a single light illuminating the night sky. The light is ostensibly the Moon, however she represents significantly more; first loves, hopes eternal, ambitions unfettered, all of which emanate a bewitching glow.
Thus, the heart of a lonely boy is captured. He sets out to win her love scouring the deepest seas, defeating the mightiest dragons to secure riches to entice her affections, but she rejects them all.
He is warned by the shadows of an old man, a cautionary conscience perhaps, to desist or otherwise suffer the consequences. However, from deep desperation, fierce determination takes root and the boy engineers a plan. He gives the Moon that which cannot be got and in so doing, finally harnesses her love.
Essentially a metaphor of Alaimo’s proclamation of never giving up on yourself or your dreams, The Boy Who Loved the Moon is laced with spellbinding fantasy. Alaimo’s poetic prose plunges the reader into despair, allowing them to feel the boy’s regrets, heartaches and gutsy tenacity then helps them soar with him to unimaginable heights of ecstasy.
There is only one page of blinding colour in this book. Every other spread is a study of copper and gold, darkness and mystery; the colour of courage that one finds buried deep in one’s heart. It is pure magic.
Young readers may find some of the nuances addressed a little illusive but if read with an adult, they will delight in delving deeper into this beautiful book. Its unique illustrations and dazzling dragons are almost drawcard enough. Reminiscent of the enigmatic wonder of Le Petite Prince, The Boy Who Loved the Moon is a stunning standout classic. Enjoy it for what it is. Love it for is suggests.