Review Blog

Oct 04 2019

A home for Luna by Stef Gemmill and Mel Armstrong

cover image

New Frontier, 2019. ISBN: 9781925594843. 32pp., hbk.
On a cold, moonlit night a dark crate washes up on a lonely shore, and out crawls a bedraggled, lonely cat, wary of her surroundings so different from the home she remembers, but glad to be out of the ceaseless motion of the sea.  As daylight creeps up, she woke and looked around only to find herself among creatures that didn't look like anything she had seen, certainly not cats, but the familiar fishy smell drew her forward.
Too tired to move, she lay on the rocks watching the penguins swim and return with fish, making her tummy rumbled.  And then one of them approached her . . .  is this a friendly move or one fraught with fear?
Mel Armstrong, an experienced illustrator making her children's book debut, has created bold illustrations which suggest that Luna is no weak, wimpy cat and so the reader expects that this story is going to go well beyond that initial meeting and that conflict or camaraderie. there is some meat to it.
On the surface, this is a simple story about two creatures forming an unlikely friendship, one that reaches a climax when humans arrive at the colony and decide that it is no place for a cat.  But looking beneath the surface, could it be the story of a refugee arriving in a strange land amongst strange people, and being accepted just for who they are, rather than anything else?  And a government making a determination about their suitability to stay?  Or am I viewing it through the lens of so many news stories about worthy people facing deportation, so much so my views of a children's story have been tainted and I see allegory each time I read a story like this?  Whichever, it is refreshing to read one that is about resilience and hope and which has the sort of ending we would all wish for, whether it's a cat washed ashore or a person.
Read more about the story behind the story here.
Teacher's notes are available.
Barbara Braxton

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