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A Full Moon is Rising: Poems

Happy Lunar New Year!
A Full Moon is Rising: Poems
Written by Marilyn Singer and Illustrated by Julia Cairns
Published by Lee & Low in 2011, ISBN 978-1-60060-364-8
Grades 1 and up.
For thousands of years, the luminous, ever changing orb in our sky has inspired humankind to wonder, dream, and compose. In a collection of seventeen annotated poems set in different locations around the globe, accomplished poet Marilyn Singer celebrates the most noted and most visible moon phase – the full moon. Her thought provoking free verse poems address topics inclusive of lunar eclipses, animal reproduction and migration cycles, moon-related mythology and folklore, religious and cultural celebrations, astronomy and space exploration, and the rise and fall of the tides. While the poems stand alone as models of spare, yet deeply evocative verse, careful source notes and annotations provided by Singer will also facilitate children’s investigations of their fascinating topics. Julia Cairn’s illustrations are equally engaging; double page spreads immerse the reader in watercolor-rendered locales both familiar and new. As full of beauty and depth as the moon phase it celebrates, this picture book is truly wondrous.
Teaching Invitations
Grades One – Three
  • The Moon in Poems and Songs. Gather together a collection of poems and songs that have the moon as their subject. Invite children to compare how poets have paid tribute to the importance of the moon. For younger children, Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem The Moon illustrated in picture book format by Tracey Campbell Pearson is a good starting point. Older readers will enjoy the collection of nonfiction poems that Douglas Florian presents in Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars. Invite your students to compose their own poetic tributes to the moon.
  • Illustrating the Moon. Julia Cairns positions the full moon in expansive landscapes in her watercolor images. Gather a collection of illustrations of the moon that are inclusive of various artistic styles and media. Invite children to discuss the various illustrations and their affect on the viewer. Following observation of the moon in the night sky, provide your students with various artistic media to create their own images of the moon.
  • Moon Celebrations Around the Globe. In A Full Moon is Rising, Marilyn Singer includes poems about Sukkot, Mid-Autumn Festival, and The Camel Fair. Have your students investigate these and other moon related events, such as Chinese New Year. Students should present their findings to their classmates. Invite students to create their own lunar calendar for the classroom that includes the significant dates they have identified, describing the moon-related events in text and illustration.
  • Author Study. Marilyn Singer is the author of over ninety books for children and is a strong advocate for the genre of poetry. Gather a collection of her books and invite children to study her work to note patterns in her writing style, themes, topics, and language use. Singer’s web site includes information on her artistic process that will be supportive of young writer’s efforts.
  • Dreaming of Space Exploration. In the poem set in the Sahara, a young boy dreams of traveling to the moon – “Astronauts less familiar with heat and dust / have walked there / Why not one day / him?” This poem is the perfect launching point for an investigation of space travel, historically and speculatively about the future. Two picture books appropriate for a broad age range that invite the reader to imagine travelling to the moon and to Mars may be another point of departure for this investigation. Bibliographic information for If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty and You Are the First Kid on Mars by Patrick O’Brien can be found in the further resources section below.
  • Nonfiction Poetry. We invite you to revisit our entry for Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman for some teaching ideas related to a genre study of nonfiction poetry. The entry can be accessed at
Grades Three and Up
  • Poets’ Inspirations. Marilyn Singer provides her readers with a clear list of the sources that both inspired and developed her poems. This listing can be found on the copyright page of the book. Invite your students to consider how a news article or web site might inspire the composition of a poem. Ask your students to spend a week or two collecting texts that catch their interest (suggest online newspapers, magazines, and safe web browses as sources for their texts). It might make sense to have students collect a text each day and a jot down notes about why the text is of interest to them. At the end of the collection period, students should review their texts and select one to further explore. After gathering additional resources related to the text content, students can respond with their own poetry compositions. Alternatively, for a less open ended version of this activity – have students identify a topic form the onset and collect resources specifically related to their topic.
  • Moon Phases. In an introductory note, the author describes the phases of the moon. Understanding the orbit of the moon and the changing appearance of the moon is difficult conceptually for children. You may want to invite children to keep a moon journal in which they record their observations about the moon in the night sky over several weeks, including illustration and written notes. Additionally, gather a collection of texts that describe the moon phases and the orbit of the moon around the earth. Invite children to evaluate the clarity of each text’s explanation of this natural phenomenon.
  • Animal Behavior and the Moon Phases. Teachers everywhere have been known to say, “It must be a full moon,” when their students are restless, argumentative, or high spirited. Several of the poems in the collection make reference to animal behavior that is influenced by the moon phases. The poems specifically refer to bird migration, coral spawning, and wolf vocalization. Dig a little deeper to investigate the possible effects that the moon has on human and animal behavior. This article might be a starting point for your investigation:
Further Explorations
Online Resources

Marilyn Singer, Author
NASA: Lunar and Planetary Science
StarDate: Moon Phases
Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration
Amazing Space
Smithsonian: National Air and Space Museum
A Private Universe Project: Exploring Conceptions
Farmer’s Almanac:
Farmer’s Almanac for Kids:

Aldrin, B. (2005). Reaching for the moon. Ill. by W. Minor. New York: HarperCollins.
  • In this picture book autobiography, Buzz Aldrin describes his early interest in space travel, his commitment to becoming an astronaut, and the when he left a footprint on the moon.
Chaiken, A. & Kohl, V. (2009). Mission control, this is Apollo: the story of the first voyages to the moon. Ill. by A. Bean. New York: Viking.
  • This nonfiction text for intermediate grade readers details the Mercury and Apollo voyages.
Floca, B. (2009). Moonshot: The flight of Apollo 11. New York: Jackson/Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
  • This dramatic picture book, written to honor the fortieth anniversary of the first moon landing, details the Apollo 11 moon landing with stunning visuals.
Florian, D. (2007). Comets, stars, the moon, and Mars. New York: Harcourt.
  • Intriguing paintings accompany a collection of twenty poems incorporating information about our solar system. Includes back matter with additional details.
Gibbons, G. (1997). The moon book. New York: Holiday House.
  • Gibbons provides an illustrated overview of the moon’s orbit and phases, its effects on the earth, the moon landing, and folklore about the moon.

Kudlinski, K. (2008). Boy, were we wrong about the solar system. Ill. J. Rocco. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.

  • This nonfiction picture book describes the history of theories about the solar system.
McNulty F. (2005). If you decide to go the moon. Ill. by Stephen Kellogg. New York: Scholastic Press.
  • In this picture book that blends nonfiction information and a fictional second person narration, readers are taken on an imaginary journey to the moon.
O’Brien, P. (2009). You are the first kid on Mars. New York: Putnam.
  • Using second person narration, the author details what a journey to Mars might involve in this engaging picture book.
Ottaviani, J. (2009). T-minus: the race to the moon. New York: Alladin.
  • This graphic novel traces the history of the space race between the United States and the Russians, covering the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions and the parallel Russian achievements.
Seymour, S. (2003). The moon. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • A revised edition of the 1984 title, this photo essay provides an overview of what is known about the moon.
Stevenson, R.L. (2006). The moon. Ill. by Tracey Cambell Pearson. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.
  • An illustrated version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “The Moon,” originally included in his anthology A Child’s Garden of Verses.
Stone, T.L. (2009). Almost astronauts: 13 women who dared to dream. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
  • This photo-essay covers the lesser known story of the “Mercury 13,” thirteen women who fought for the right to get into space.
Thimmesh, C. (2006). Team moon: how 400,000 people landed Apollo 11 on the moon. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
  • It is the story of the many people who contributed to the efforts toward a moon landing that is highlighted in this narrative chronicling the Apollo 11 mission.

Erika Thulin Dawes About Erika Thulin Dawes

Erika is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former classroom teacher, reading specialist, and literacy supervisor, she now teaches courses in children’s literature, early literacy, and literacy methods. Erika is the co-author of Learning to Write with Purpose, Teaching with Text Sets, and Teaching to Complexity.