Cover image for A cool moonlight
A cool moonlight
Johnson, Angela, 1961-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
133 pages ; 19 cm
Nine-year-old Lila, born with xeroderma pigmentosum, a skin disease that make her sensitive to sunlight, makes secret plans to feel the sun's rays on her tenth birthday.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.1 2.0 74143.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



With breathtaking lyricism, Angela Johnson shares the thoughts and dreams of an extraordinary girl named Lila. Born with an unusual and dangerous allergy to the sun, nine-year-old Lila can only be outside at night. She plays by the light of the moon, and her playmates are two mysterious girls who wear tutus and costume wings, and often show up when Lila is alone. Lila longs to feel the warmth of the sun on her skin, and with the help of her friends she is making a plan to do so. Uniquely touching, A Cool Moonlightis that rare novel that wraps tightly around you and leaves you forever changed. A novel about courage and hope and the healing power of love.

Author Notes

Angela Johnson was born on June 18, 1961 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She attended Kent State University and worked with Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) as a child development worker. She has written numerous children's books including Tell Me a Story, Mama, Shoes like Miss Alice, Looking for Red, A Cool Moonlight and Lily Brown's Paintings. She won the Coretta Scott King Author's Award three times for Toning the Sweep in 1994, for Heaven in 1999, and for The First Part Last in 2004, which also won the Michael L. Printz Award. In 2003, she was named a MacArthur fellow.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3-6. Lila has a rare medical condition: sunlight and certain kinds of artificial light can burn her skin and even blind her. Relatively isolated at home during the day, taken out by her loving parents and older sister at night, she has few friends but a rich fantasy life. Lila begins her narrative two months before her ninth birthday, which she sees as a pivotal time. Among those she believes are two imaginary playmates who appear at intervals and encourage Lila's notion that after collecting certain objects, she will magically be able to go out in daylight. Outdoors at her night birthday party, surrounded by family and friends, Lila experiences an epiphany and embraces being the moon girl with fireflies. Though few readers suffer from Lila's illness, many will recognize the ragged path she consciously takes as she lets go of a fantasy that has sustained her and begins to leave childhood behind. The book's real magic resides in the spell cast by Johnson's spare, lucid, lyrical prose. Using simple words and vivid sensory images, she creates Lila's inner world as a place of quiet intensity--spun gossamer that proves immensely, unexpectedly strong. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Johnson (I Dream of Trains, reviewed above) raises intriguing themes of the supernatural, the lure of nighttime and the heroine's yearning for the sun, but despite her lyrical language, fantasy and reality elements sit uneasily together in her latest novel. Narrator Lila is two months away from her ninth birthday; she also explains that she cannot go into the daylight, due to her xeroderma pigmentosum, which makes her sensitive to UV rays. Yet she longs for sunshine (she likes raisins because "i want all things that have been kissed by the sun"). Her "best friends" Elizabeth and Alyssa only visit Lila at night, and are helping her put together a "sun bag" (the purpose of which is never fully explained). Lila also has a friend in her neighbor: "david and me have been friendly since way before elizabeth and alyssa and me." One day while Lila and David are with Lila's older sister, Lila spots Elizabeth and Alyssa-but David can't see them ("she thinks she sees alyssa and elizabeth," David tells Lila's sister). Johnson plants seeds as to the elusive girls' identities: Alyssa "never answers" Lila's questions directly; later she asks them, "are you fairies?"; "maybe," they reply. The night before her birthday, Lila meets Jackie, who is visible to David, too, and Lila never sees Elizabeth and Alyssa again. Their abrupt departure leaves lingering questions (Does turning nine mean that there's no place for imaginary friends?) that detract from the finale: Lila's mystical nighttime birthday party. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-7-"i don't remember the sun. i don't remember the sun or how my sister, monk, says it warms you up-." So begins Lila's unusual, gentle, almost ethereal narration. She has lived in a reverse world for all of her almost nine years, unable to go out in daylight because of a condition called xeroderma pigmentosum, a "defect that made me sensitive to light. the sun. uv rays. some streetlights." Lila goes to a coffee shop called the Fallen Angel with Monk, 18, in her jalopy and has a nighttime friendship with two girls only she sees. The mysterious, perhaps otherworldly Alyssa and Elizabeth recede as Lila celebrates her ninth birthday in a poignant scene in her backyard. Fireflies gently envelop her, a moment shared and enjoyed by her family and neighbors. Lila gradually accepts that being a "moon girl" is just as good as being a "sun goddess." Recognizing that she is different, that her light is softer than the sun, bolsters Lila's inner strength and ultimate self-acceptance. The writing is lyrical and fluid, and uses no capitalization, but captures a child's feelings. "i feel like i've been eight for practically a hundred years-. if i stay eight any longer, I will have gray hair when I turn nine-." This small, poetic book requires a special reader, but those who meet Lila are likely to remember her.-Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.