Monday, June 23, 2014

MMGM: What the Moon Said

What the Moon Said by Gayle Rosengren
Word Count: 48,248
Age Range: 8-12 years
Book Description (from Amazon): Thanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can't keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther's family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin.
Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?

Debut author Gayle Rosengren brings the past to life in this extraordinary, hopeful story.

Why it is Marvelous: First of all the cover is amazing. That is how I choose most books when I am browsing in the library and this one definitely caught my attention. I love how the title is on the moon and the joy of the scene depicted. I was a little hesitant as the story starts because there is a lot of repeated negativity in the main character's feelings towards her mother. Specifically that Esther feels that her mother doesn't love her as much as the other children. As a mother myself, this was hard for me to read. 

Esther's quest for her mother's love and what she discovers about it in the end is the main storyline here, with all the superstition as setup and supporting elements. The author keeps the story tight, moving over weeks at a time without feeling as though anything has been left out. After feeling she is being a bit whiny in the beginning, I love how Esther's character arc plays out. There is sadness in this story but also adventure and perseverance and hope. 

This has definitely been one of my favorite middle grade reads of the year!

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) was created by Shannon Messenger. To find other bloggers participating in MMGM go to her blog for a list of links.  


  1. Our 6th graders do a unit on the Great Depression, so I've been debating this one. And last week's book, The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop, is one that had a lot more action in it than the cover indicated! Glad to see new faces at MMGM.

  2. I've had my eye on this one to read in the future. I just finished CHASING THE MILKY WAY which also features a mother/daughter relationship. Thanks for your review!

  3. My daughter, now eight, is right at the age for MG. Great review, I'll add this to my list for her. Love the title and cover too.

    Quick question Julie, do you beta read picture books by chance?

  4. Oh man...I so agree on this cover. Really well done. A book I am looking forward to!

  5. The cover is terrific and I love that period for historical fiction. I will definitely check this one out. Thanks for telling me about it.

  6. I've heard such good things about this one. I've been reading a lot of stories set in the Great Depression recently, and really enjoy reading about that time period. This is on my TBR list.
    Thanks for featuring it!

  7. Sorry I'm behind on MMGM posts this week but I've been away. I've heard good things about this book from other bloggers too and I really want to read it. For some reason, I always enjoy reading books about the Depression.

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