It may take readers of Gray Fox in the Moonlight, a handsome and haunting picture book from Isaac Peterson, a couple of sittings to notice how circumscribed its palette is. While the book's illustrations are created almost entirely with grays and purples shot through with white, the variation among the images, coupled with the austere poetry in every line of text, present a multifaceted and sumptuous nocturnal world.
Gray Fox in the Moonlight takes readers through a typical night in the life of the titular animal. "Gray Fox/ walks/ so lightly/ through the woods," the book begins. "The breeze/ moves slightly./ Autumn leaves fall." Soon the moon appears behind some trees, a pale orange orb seemingly "caught/ in the/ branches" and patterned with leaves. The moon and stars light Gray Fox's way as she approaches a river and examines her reflection. Moonlight also helps her follow a twisty path back to her den, "where/ her kits/ are/ dreaming." Gray Fox curls around them, moonlight-kissed feathery-leaved plants standing sentry.
Peterson's author bio suggests that the book's illustrations were created by hand, and for readers familiar with traditional photography techniques, the images may recall another technology-free art-making method: sun printing, which produces stark white shapes against blue-gray backdrops. (Might Peterson be approximating moon printing?) Gray Fox in the Moonlight is a book tied to no era, which perfectly suits a timeless hymn to the natural world and to parents' love for their children. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author