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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What the Moon Said by Gayle Rosengren

What the Moon SaidLike any eleven year old girl, Esther struggles to find her place between childhood and young adulthood.  This struggle is intensified by the fact that Esther is growing up during one of the most difficult eras in our nation's past - The Great Depression.  Her Pa loses his job in Chicago, so Ma and Pa decide to take on great risk with the purchase of a rundown farm in Wisconsin.  Without running water, plumbing, or electricity, the family makes the best out of their new home and livelihood.  Misfortune during this time period was common and heartbreaking, and Esther's family may not be spared.  Will the farm survive a harsh dry summer and an even colder winter?

All the while, Esther has another ongoing challenge to deal with, and it is quite a personal one.  Esther, the sensitive heroine of our story, grapples with her relationship with her overly superstitious, seemingly cold, Russian immigrant, Ma.  Ma's beliefs in reading the signs in the world around her creates a sometimes tension filled household for Esther and her siblings.  Does a ring around the moon really mean bad luck is coming?  Can seeing a spider before breakfast bring good luck?  Esther struggles to obtain her Ma's approval and love, so she often errs on the side of caution and follows Ma's warnings.  But what if Ma is wrong?  And will Esther find a way to get Ma to show love for her?

This soft but powerful book told in vignettes will remind readers of the great classics like Little House on the Prairie, or Anne of Green Gables.  The reader feels every emotion of Esther, and hopes that her deepest wishes come true.  While many lessons are taught throughout this book, in never feels preachy or overbearing.  This historical fiction is outstanding at making the past feel modern and kids and adults alike will be able to relate to the character's actions.  What the Moon Said is a fabulous read aloud for younger kids, and the 8-12 year old kids will love reading about Esther on their own.  This book is a great example of life during the Depression, and shouldn't be passed by.  This is a new favorite for me and I am excited to hopefully read more of this new author's work soon. 

What a terrific review of this absolutely wonderful "What the Moon Said" Middle Grade book by Gayle Rosengren. In addition to its many other virtues, "Moon" has one of the best main characters in recent Middle Grade literature: vibrant & lovable & totally-fascinating Esther!. And so skillfully written by Ms. Rosengren, with just the right voice for someone of Esther's age, a perfect structure (flows seamlessly from scene to scene, chapter to chapter), and beautiful use of language. A great mother-daughter relationship book. Also, because it is so age-appropriate & skillfully written, What the Moon Said would be a terrific Read Out-loud" book for home or the classroom. And a fun read for adults, too. 5 Stars for "Moon" and for you on-the-spot terrific review!

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