Review: Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

maggot moon

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Standish Treadwell thinks differently than all of the others.  He can’t read and can’t write because the letters move around in front of his eyes, but he does come up with amazing thoughts.  That’s one of the reasons that he and his best friend Hector get along so well.  Hector sees past Standish’s different colored eyes and understands that Standish is really brilliant.  So when Hector disappears, Standish is left alone to be bullied.  It’s all because Hector went to the other side of the wall and saw what was happening there.  It’s a secret that the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know about, but Standish starts to figure everything out when the Lush family is taken and the Moon Man appears.  This dark, violent novel shows us a bleak future where differences are stomped out but as Standish demonstrates are just as vital as they are today.

This is one of those novels that unfolds as you read it, layered and complex.  Science fiction set in the 1950s, readers will try to figure out where the book is set and how this happened.  Set in a totalitarian regime in what appears to be England where World War II ended very differently, this book is stark and tension filled.  Just the illustrations alone with the fly and the rat mark this as an unusual read. 

What I found most amazing about this book is that we are not just told that Standish thinks differently than others, we are shown it in his narrative voice.  The book is far from linear, journeying almost as a stream of consciousness through the past.  Standish will have readers themselves looking at the world through his eyes and what an accomplishment that is!

This book defies description by genre and really is impossible to summarize well.  Let me just say that it is powerful, brutal and set in bleakness but never far from hope.  Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: The Passover Lamb by Linda Elovitz Marshall

passover lamb

The Passover Lamb by Linda Elovitz Marshall, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss

Miriam has been selected to sing the Four Questions at the seder, the special Passover meal, at her grandparent’s house.  She has been practicing over and over again.  When she discovers that Snowball, one of their ewes, is going to have a baby, the family wonders if it will disrupt their Passover plans.  Snowball has her lambs in time, but her third lamb is ignored and she refuses to nurse him.  Miriam is very worried for the little lamb, but also wants to head to the seder and sing her part.  So she comes up with a clever plan to care for the newborn lamb and be able to be with her extended family.  This Passover story is a gentle reminder about compassion and a beautiful introduction to Passover.

Marshall writes with a gentleness that weaves throughout the entire story.  She allows Miriam to really be the center of the story, her family members are important but Miriam is certainly the lead.  She is the one who discovers that the ewe is going to have a baby, bottle feeds the newborn lamb and figures out the solution, all on her own.  This is child-led compassion that comes from a deep and natural place.

Mai-Wyss’ art is done in watercolors. The results are rich and colorful, nicely capturing a small family farm.  Just as with the text, Miriam is often front and center in the illustrations.

A superb book about caring and compassion, this is a strong addition to any public library.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Books for Young Readers.