Cover of Switching on the Moon by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters

Switching on the Moon

I don’t actually remember how this book started. Either the editor suggested it or Andy Fusek Peters did. The only thing I know is that we all wanted a companion book to HERE’S A LITTLE POEM which had gotten sterling reviews, won some awards, and looked to become a minor childhood classic.

Tall order that!

Andy and I batted around a number of ideas. He talked to our British editor. I shot emails to our American editor. We kept this up until at some point someone—all of us—leaped on the night-time idea.

But I don’t actually remember anything to pinpoint that moment.

The book was just called NIGHTTIME POEMS for the longest while, until the editors insisted we find an actual title. And then, in a list of good lines from the poems, I picked out SWITCHING ON THE MOON and everyone agreed that was it. Andy chose the British poets, I the American poets, we all considered what was on offer and worked on the balance.

Alas, as always, some of my favorite poems got dropped along the wayside. But that’s what making an anthology is all about—balance. Balance between serious and funny, between British and American, besides how many poems about a child’s teddy bear can we reasonably have in the mix?

Illustrator Brian Karas was an inspired choice by the American editor. He simply draws (pun intended) all the disparate threads of the book together. I ended up buying one of the pieces for my collection. Ah, but I won’t tell you which.


  • The Fred Rogers Company (Mr. Rogers from PBS) and Best Books for Babies have released a list of books that are their favorites for children 18 months and younger. Switching on the moon was #9.
    • “9. Switching on the Moon Compiled by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters Illustrated by G. Brian Karas Candlewick – Perfect for sharing at bedtime, the beautifully illustrated poems in this collection are sure to become family favorites.”
  • SWITCHING ON THE MOON won an Oppenheim Portfolio Gold award and is one of the Toronto Globe & Mail’s top books of the year.
  • It is also a finalist for the Cybils award.
  • 2012-2013 Beehive Poetry Nominee from the Children’s Literature Association of Utah (CLAU). See the full list here.

Around the web:

What reviewers have said:

  • “Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters do a fine job of varying the subjects and moods in this cozy themed anthology that includes poets both well known and up-and-coming. G. Brian Karas’s paintings, many featuring a gorgeous midnight blue, are peopled with cloud-sleepers, bed-bouncers, dream-wonderers, and night-singers, a safe world with an edge of mystery”—Horn Book
  • “Divided into three chapters, “Going to Bed,” “Sweet Dreams” and “In the Night,” this delightful book leads through the steps of getting ready to sleep to a brief glimpse of dawn. I was intrigued to find two versions of the classic “Rock-a-bye, Baby.” Have you met “Dream Angus” or “The Dream Keeper?” You will here. This is a great reference book as it contains so many different looks at night and the preparation for bed and sleep.”—Indiana Post-Tribune
  • “All kids have one thing in common: They’ve gotta go to sleep sometime. Ease the transition with Switching on the Moon, a collection of 60 classic and contemporary poems about bedtime. The verses cover a range of subjects, from the charming ode to jumping on the mattress by Sylvia Plath (yes, that Sylvia Plath), to co-editor Jane Yolen’s own urban lullaby (”Garbage truck churns crackety-crack / Subway rails go clickety clack). Illustrator G. Brian Karas shows children all over the world—in the city, country and everywhere in between—heading off to slumber. With luck, your babe will take the hint.”—Time Out New York Kids Blog
  • “Just right for reading aloud with preschoolers, the 60 poems in this lively anthology play with magical images of the night sky as well as with rituals of bath and bed. . . . A fun companion to Mother Goose.”—Booklist
  • *STARRED REVIEW* “Following up on Here’s a Little Poem, Yolen and Peters’s 60- poem anthology reveals the many faces of nighttime through the words of these collaborators as well as poets that include Tennyson, Plath, Lee Bennett Hopkins, and Mary Ann Hoberman. Some verses are comical (Colin West’s “Going to Bed”: “Go to bed early—/ Your hair grows curly./ Go to bed late—/ Your hair grows straight”), some are gentle (Polly Peters’s “Puff”: All is safe. Now drift away/ On velvet dreams, from night to day”), and others are full of whimsy. With Karas’s mixed-media illustrations creating a chalky, dreamlike atmosphere, this book is made for bedtime.”—Publishers Weekly
  • “. . .60 short, murmurous, night-themed poems or extracted verses (are paired with) full-bleed, usually full-spread paintings awash in soft moonlight and gentle, dreamlike images. Printed in generously spaced lines of good-sized type well suited to reading in low light, the selections are artfully arranged in a thematic progression that moves from moonrise to bedtime rituals . . . Karas provides a gently multicultural cast of characters. Best of all, the poetry’s mild, steady rhythms will close little eyelids anywhere.” —Kirkus
  • *STARRED REVIEW* Sixty well-chosen poems conjure up the perfect atmosphere for dreaming. Sometimes playful and sometimes thought-provoking, the poetry is divided into three categories to carry readers through the bedtime hours: “Going to Sleep,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “In the Night.” Karas’s cartoon illustrations, done in gouache, acrylic, and pencil, beautifully complement each poem while also creating an aura of nighttime magic that unifies the volume. The poets included range from Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and Eleanor Farjeon to Karla Kuskin, Douglas Florian, and Tony Mitton. There are many moments to enjoy and to treasure within these pages, and this anthology would have a valuable place in most poetry collections.”—School Library Journal