I was introduced to the art of Ana Juan recently, via her illustrations for Cat Valente's novel The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. This is for younger readers and as far as I know Juan wrote the story as well. I didn't feel it quite worked
, but it was certainly original and interesting, as are her lively and colorful illustrations.
The Night Eater follows the Moon. He gobbles up the elements of the night, fresh fizzy stars and chocolately darkness. But one day he notices that he has become immensely fat and decides to stop noshing. Without someone to consume the darkness there is no room for daytime, and the world is plunged into perpetual night. At first people enjoy the change of pace, but soon they start to get cold and the crops fail without light. The children beg the Night Eater to resume his work, and he does.
This has the feel of myth, but not the balance of a genuine folk tale. How does this cosmological system function? If the Night Eater has always had to eat all the night, why does he get so fat? Is there suddenly more night than there used to be? And his very serious-looking obesity is not solved in any way, he just gives up dieting and goes back to being a glutton. Shouldn't there be some message about moderation here? Myths usually explain something about nature, and this explains nothing.