Walk When the Moon is Full ~ Frances Hamerstrom

I picked up a wonderful book at our local Goodwill bargain book bin last night for fifty cents! 

Walk When the Moon is Full  by Frances Hamerstrom and illustrated by Robert Katona, 1975.

Each chapter was written on the appropriate night of the full moon ~ (from the Introduction):

This story is about two real children, Alan and Elva, who called their father Hammy and their mother Fran. They lived on a 240 acre farm in Wisconsin and longed to go exploring at night.
Elva, the younger, like to climb trees. Animals trusted her to come very close and her keen ears heard the faintest sounds.
Alan had a small but sensitive nose that found and remembered smells, just as his mind remembered facts. He liked to find things out.
Fran promised the children that she would explore with them twelve times – every month when the moon is full – for a whole year. Then Alan laughed, “The moon is full thirteen times a year.”
Each time they walked in the moonlight they found something new.
This book has thirteen surprises.

How it Began ~

Both children where in their pajamas for it was supposed to be the quiet time before they went to bed. Alan was looking at a book, but Elva had been standing at the window for a long time peering into the night.

Alan put down his book and went to the window too…At last he turned to his mother and sighed, “Do we have to go to bed early every single night until we are old?”

Fran set her mending aside and looked out the window…at last she repeated Alan’s words softly, “…every single night until we are old?”

Then she said, “No,” in a faraway tone. Both children looked up at the sound of their mother’s voice. “Why should children go to bed early every single night until they are old? I say, ‘No!'” “The moon is full. Put on your sweaters and snow pants and overshoes. You can pull them right over your pajamas. Find your mittens. I think they are drying by the stove with mine. Just a moment, I’ll tell your father we are going for a walk.”

“A walk! A walk in the moonlight!” the children shouted.


I read most of the book last night before bed…following all of their adventures during the full moon. Deer, owls, sledding, sweet maple sap in icicles, woodcocks, white cockle flowers ~ and flowers that go to sleep at night, fireflies, foxes and weasels.

Then I smiled and thought back to all the times my sister and I did things at night! Some times by the full moon other times it was much scarier WITHOUT the moon! 🙂

CARPINTERIA STATE BEACH ~ near Santa Barbara, Ca.
This beach is a treasure trove for kids of all ages ~ we camped there every June for years! Tide-pools, great beaches, lots of swimming, hiking, exploring, tar to get stuck to the bottoms of your feet…we kids had a great time night and day there. I still remember getting up at night with our flashlights heading down to the beach for the grunion runs! What a sight to behold for a kid!

Still remember to this day the time all of us kids were bubbling with excitement ~ fireworks in Yosemite! The ranger leading us all at night to a meadow…we all laid on our backs to watch…Nature’s fireworks! WHAT?! LOL! We all received a lesson on the stars ~ beautiful and we all stayed excited, even at the first disappointment of no kaboomie fireworks.

Another favorite place to camp when a kid ~ and when we went camping there were always no fewer than 4 kids ~ mostly up to 12 of us from the different families that came along. Calico was a great place for us to run around. Nighttime was a favorite…cemetery, campfires, scaring the bejesus out of each other in the adits, pretending we were cowboys.

Guess I should stop here…otherwise this post will get too long.  🙂 

Here is to all of you parents letting your children stay up and explore by the moon!

9 thoughts on “Walk When the Moon is Full ~ Frances Hamerstrom

  1. It reminds me of when my husband woke up the kids and I at 2 in the morning to watch the eclipse.

    Wonderful memories are the greatest treasures of all. Sounds like the book was quite a bargain.

  2. We discovered Walk When the Moon Is Full when my sons, now 36 and 31, were little. Inspired by Hammerstrom’s magical but true stories, we and our neighbor and her son walked many nights, under the full moon in rural northern Wisconsin, and also many nights with no moonlight, even during the crispest nights of winter. The kids often sledded in the winter. In the summer, we laid on a blanket in awe of the Milky Way or counted shooting stars. Our eyes, ears, and noses were always engaged in anticipation of all the same things Frannie led her children to. As an adult, one of my sons read this wonderful book aloud to his girlfriend, and the other is a wildlife ecologist. If it’s snowing, he might take the dog for a walk in the woods more than once in a night. Walk When the Moon Is Full holds a special place in their and my memory and heart.

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