In his debut picture book, Nigel and the Moon, author Antwan Eady introduces a young boy named Nigel Strong. Every night, Nigel travels to the moon to share his hopes and aspirations. Nigel wants to go to space as an astronaut or leap like a ballet dancer, but most of all, he’d love to become a superhero.
During career week at school, Nigel is beset by doubts. As he pages through books about occupations at the library, he doesn’t find any dancers with brown skin who look like him. While his classmates eagerly announce what they want to be when they grow up, Nigel holds back. It’s one thing to share his secret dream of being a superhero with the moon, but quite another to say it out loud in his classroom. And when his classmates discuss their parents’ occupations, Nigel asks to be excused, worried that everyone will laugh because his parents don’t have “fancy jobs.”
But when Nigel’s mom, a postal carrier, and his dad, a truck driver, visit his class on the final day of career week, their enthusiasm for their work lights up the room. Nigel, too, beams with pride after his dad declares, “Raising Nigel’s been the best job we’ve ever had.” His parents’ support gives Nigel the courage he needs to share his dreams with his peers.
Illustrator Gracey Zhang’s ink, gouache and watercolor illustrations vividly capture the lush green trees and brightly colored houses over which Nigel soars each night on his way to the moon. Zhang’s images expertly convey Nigel’s emotions. The deep blue of the night sky and the large, luminous moon complement his nightly musings. In one spread, while his classmates share what their parents do for a living, Nigel sits at his desk on the opposite page, isolated and alone, surrounded by white space.
Eady’s spare text tells a simple but powerful story about believing in yourself and being proud of your family. A final, wordless image shows Nigel peering out his bedroom window at the moon once more, inviting readers to wonder what he might be dreaming of—and to consider their own hopes and dreams, too.