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  About Rachel Captures the Moon

When I first began writing Rachel Captures the Moon, I wasn’t thinking about publication. I only wanted to get my homework done. It was 1999 and I was taking a course at Central Tech school in Toronto with veteran children’s book illustrator, Mark Thurman, called “Illustrating Children’s Books”. The homework assignment was to illustrate a children’s book. Well, the trick was finding a story I could illustrate…preferably a short one that didn’t require many illustrations. I looked high and wide for a very short story and got lucky... I found one that was one paragraph long! It was in a collection of short stories compiled by Samuel Tenenbaum and was called “Chelm Captures the Moon.” The story goes something like this – the people of Chelm liked the moon so much that they decided to capture it. So they brought the matter to the village council who considered the matter and, using wisdom unique to Chelmites, decided to capture the moon in a rain barrel.

That was it. The whole story. So I did an illustration in charcoal and watercolour of people gathered around a rain barrel gazing at the ‘moon’ they had just captured. Here is the picture I painted.

The Rain Barrel

Who is the little girl?

I don’t know how a little girl got in the picture but I’m kind of glad she did since she turned out to be Rachel, the hero in the story that eventually became, my first picture book, Rachel Captures the Moon.

Oh yes, one more thing I should mention. Rachel wasn’t always Rachel. At first she was Hannah as you can see from the cover of the dummy book that I prepared to show my publisher.

Hannah Captures The Moon

So who is Rachel?

“But we already have a series of picture books about a little girl named Hannah” said my publisher. I had to do some quick thinking. On the one hand I thought the name Hannah was perfect. Not only was it my niece’s name but it was also a palindrome (reads the same backwards and forwards). On the other hand, I didn’t want to be seen as a difficult author to work with… after all I was already thinking of other stories I could write and illustrate for this, my ‘dream’ publisher. “No problem,” I said. “I’ll find another name.”

And so I did. It was close between Maya and Rachel for a while and then Rachel won out.

  click to enlarge

Published by Tundra Books
ISBN: 978-0-88776-505-6

        Cover artwork used with permission.
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content & artwork © Richard Ungar | website by Hoffworks