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Nico Visits the Moon

Last updated Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Author: Honorio Robledo
Date of Publication: 2001
ISBN: 0938317571
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2009

Synopsis: Mexican-born Robledo creates a fable touched with magic realism, accompanied by charming pen-and-ink and watercolor wash illustrations. Little Nico is such a live wire that his parents hang almost everything from balloons to keep it out of his reach. One day, while his mother gives herself a neon manicure and his father watches "the most important basketball game in the whole world," the toddler manages to grab a handful of the balloons and float away. Unable to catch him, his panic-stricken parents watch his progress on the evening news, which shows a contented Nico "giggling and taking bites out of the soft clouds like they were cotton candy!" He eventually fetches up on the moon, where his mother sends care packages via balloon until he can be rescued three years later by astronauts ("just in time to start kindergarten," notes his father). Robledo's premise and his deadpan delivery provide plenty of amusing fodder for a picture book fantasy. Precisely drawn cartoon vignettes have a surreal quality keenly attuned to the tale's fantastical elements, and Robledo peppers the pages with whimsical detail, from the floating household objects (a teapot, a flashlight, a bottle of ink) to the characters' amusingly improbable hairstyles.

Note to readers:
•  Vocabulary: Anteaters, fleas, Australia, aroma, celebration, shriek, rapidly, astounded

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Where is Nico?
•  Does this make Nico the Man on the Moon?
•  Where’s the farthest place you’ve ever been?
•  Have you flown away on a balloon?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How do you escape?
•  Have you ever tried catching a runaway balloon?
•  Have you ever been on the news before?
•  What’s the weather like on the moon?
•  Have you ever left the house without telling your parents?
•  What kind of food do you want to eat on the moon?
•  Have you ever seen food flying through your window?
•  What do your parents say “no” about?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a bouquet of balloons with positive messages about reading and/or with positive pictures. Cut out several balloon shapes in different colors. Decorate/color each balloon with positive messages (Reading is Fun; Take Me To The Moon, I Love You, Reading to Kids) or pictures (their favorite food, a big heart). Attach string to each balloon and then tie the strings together for a bouquet. Glue the bouquet to another piece of paper and draw a moon in the top corner.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!