The Silver Moon Storybook is a beautiful book that would make a great gift for any age from younger children to adults. It consists of seven short stories of the fairy tale variety weaving timeless themes into its wonderful stories.
What I loved about the book
The book is lovely to hold in hardback with a dark blue cover beautified by silver lettering and images. The text is broken up by lovely black and white images that capture the imagination. You have around one illustration per two pages on average and I really don’t miss colour because the images are wondrous. The stories are short but detailed enough for you to actually care about the characters. This is a world of magical creatures from unicorns to clowns, from mermaids to witches, from spiders to wise old crones. The themes are the important ones in life such as learning, love and loss. There is a feminist element to the book too although I believe people who do not identify as feminists would enjoy the book too.
What I disliked about the book
As I often do with short stories, I had a feeling the endings were not satisfactory sometimes and a little rushed. I can see it is a challenge to do a long denouement when you are sticking to the short story format. Perhaps I was just a little sad to leave each magical tale behind.
How I felt when reading the book
It felt liberating to return to reading fairy tales again. I am passing on the book to my daughter first and then my son but it was lovely to indulge in this book as a middle-aged woman in my own right. Aspects of the book really moved me particularly when themes of freedom came up possibly saying a lot about how I feel about my lot in life right now. There was a lovely bit about people coming into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime that also resonated with me deeply at a soul level.
What I questioned about the book
I questioned that the feminist angle to the book was not strong enough for my tastes or at least not what I am used to having read feminist fairy stories a long time ago. I asked the author about this and loved her response.
I included several stories about men in The Silver Moon storybook because I see these feminist fairy tales as a challenge to patriarchy, not to men themselves.
It’s absolutely true and correct to say that men are the main material beneficiaries of patriarchy – after all a patriarchal society is built around the needs and expectations of men. However we also know that patriarchy damages men as well, for example by perpetuating stereotypes like “boys don’t cry” that leave men struggling to identify and manage their emotions. We only have to look at rates of male violence and male suicide (suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50) to see the gravity of the effects of this emotional neglect.
When I call myself a feminist, and this a feminist book, I base that on my belief that feminism offers us a route to equality – not just material equality, but emotional equality as well. To me this means addressing not only the myriad, material and very visible ways that patriarchy hurts women, but also the more insidious and hidden problems that affect men. I believe that if we can come to a better understanding of how women *and* men suffer under patriarchy, we have a better chance of convincing people to work together to address the issues we face and make life better for everyone.
Also, rather cynically, the straight white male is still the ultimate top banana of social hierarchy; if we want to effect real, radical change, he’s the one we will need to convince if we want him to share, and we simply won’t manage that without due consideration to his side of the story. This is why I correct anybody who says I’ve written a book of feminist fairy tales “for girls” – these messages are important for boys to hear as well; through my enormous clown and my gnome I provide them with role models showing that it’s healthy and important for men to feel emotions, to make emotional connections with other people, and to stand up for women in the face of toxic masculinity.
Lastly, I wanted young women to see these men being strong and fighting back against patriarchy – it’s important for women to know that decent men are allies, not opponents. I could easily have written a book filled simply with stories of empowered women winning the day, princesses fighting the dragon and casting all my male characters as abusers and oppressors, I just don’t think that would be a fair or accurate reflection of the true nature of our struggles towards equality.
I recommend this book for yourself or as a lovely gift for a loved one. It reminded me a little in some ways of the Brothers Grimm tales due to its diverse characters and settings. I think it is a book that I will need to return to again and again to get the most from and that is a positive. Next time around, I will take notes and there is an actual section where you can do this at the end of the book. I loved how some of the same characters came up in different stories catching me by surprise. These days that’s a little like reconnecting with people you knew long ago via Facebook. I also felt that the book was a little like how they say your life flashes past you at the time of death. All of the characters felt they had appeared for a reason and has powerful lessons to teach if only you could decipher them. I would score this book as a 9 out of 10.
Would you like to read The Silver Moon Storybook by Elaine Gunn?