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Laugh with the Moon is on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List.
Thirteen-year-old Clare Silver is stuck. Stuck in denial about her mother?s recent death. Stuck in the African jungle for sixty-four days without phone reception. Stuck with her father, a doctor who seems able to heal everyone but Clare.
Clare feels like a fish out of water at Mzanga Full Primary School, where she must learn a new language. Soon, though, she becomes immersed in her new surroundings and ...
Laugh with the Moon is on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List.
Thirteen-year-old Clare Silver is stuck. Stuck in denial about her mother’s recent death. Stuck in the African jungle for sixty-four days without phone reception. Stuck with her father, a doctor who seems able to heal everyone but Clare.
Clare feels like a fish out of water at Mzanga Full Primary School, where she must learn a new language. Soon, though, she becomes immersed in her new surroundings and impressed with her fellow students, who are crowded into a tiny space, working on the floor among roosters and centipedes.
When Clare’s new friends take her on an outing to see the country, the trip goes horribly wrong, and Clare must face another heartbreak head-on. Only an orphan named Memory, who knows about love and loss, can teach Clare how to laugh with the moon.
Told from an American girl’s perspective, this story about how death teaches us to live and how love endures through our memories will capture the hearts of readers everywhere.
Starred Review, School Library Journal, June 2012:
“This lyrical story will be consumed in one long sitting, but the characters will stay with readers for a very long time.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September 2012:
"The novel is strongest in its presentation of loss and mourning; Clare’s emotions in dealing with her mother are raw, and the additional loss of Innocent brings many of those feelings back."
I press my nose against the airplane window and breathe faster, faster, more, more, more. I try to erase what's outside. In my mind, I beg for someone to help me. Help me! I want to yell. But you know, who would? Who could? Only Dad, of course, and flying here was his idea in the first place.
Branches slam against each other in the wind and rain. The jungle is so crowded. How can anything possibly grow in it? My eyes trace a thick vine twisting around and around an enormous tree trunk, desperately trying to choke the life out of it. Who will win: the vine or the tree? I don't like that vine. I don't like it one bit.
I breathe even faster, and by the time the plane jolts to a stop, I've covered the window with mist. Now I can't see outside, can't see where I'm going to be stuck for the next nine weeks. All I can do is watch my father pack up the medical report that he's been poring over ever since we switched planes a few hours ago. "Come on, honey," he says, as if he hasn't just torn me away from home, as if he hasn't made me leave all my friends and memories behind.
He tucks the medical report neatly inside his army-green traveler's backpack. I unbuckle my seat belt and stand. My heart thumps, quick and light, quick and light, never touching down for a full beat. While Dad checks the messages on his cell phone, there's a creak. Then a loud, long roar. I crouch and wipe off the window to look for the airplane racing down the runway, about to escape. But I don't see another plane, only forest-green, olive-green, green-gold. And rain, rain, rain.
A blast of heat fills the cabin. The month of January really is summer in this place. Under my sweater and jeans, tiny beads of sweat bubble up all over my skin. I take off my cotton scarf and stuff it into my backpack while that strange roar grows louder.
A dark-skinned woman stands in the row of seats in front of me, her head wrapped in a bright red cloth. A tall, thin girl stands beside her, a younger version of the woman. The girl talks to her mother in a language that sounds like fireworks, full of bursts and pops. She holds her hand over her mouth, giggling. I try not to look at her. She probably has so many minutes with her mother she can't even count them.
I grab the gold heart pendant hanging around my neck, feel the dent that I chewed right into the middle of it. Mom made it for me a few years ago when she took a jewelry design class at the center for adult education. Dad slips his phone into his pocket and gives me a squeeze around my shoulders. I pull away.
"How long are you going to keep up the silent treatment?" he asks.
I check my watch and adjust for the eight-hour time difference between Boston and here. I haven't spoken for the entire trip, not even during the layover in South Africa. That would put me at a grand total of twenty-six hours and thirty-two minutes, never mind that I was sleeping for at least eighteen of them. It's so impressive—maybe even a world record—that I actually consider sharing the news.
But I don't, because that would break my promise, and in my book, promises are not meant to be broken. Not promises fathers make to daughters, like "I'll take care of you" and "I always have your best interest at heart." And not promises daughters make to fathers, like "I will never speak to you until you take me back where I belong."
I follow Dad down the cramped aisle. The rumble grows louder and my breath snakes up my throat. Soon I'm at the mouth of the plane. I realize it's the crazy storm outside that's making such a racket. Cold raindrops prick me like needles. There isn't even a tunnel connecting the airplane to the airport.
A flight attendant stands by the cockpit. "Welcome to Malawi," she says, and smiles. I know that I should smile back. It's the right thing to do. But I can't. I doubt I'll ever smile again.
A bolt of lightning strikes the treetops. I'm thinking it's pretty dumb to stand on a metal staircase in an African storm. We could be killed.
But my father? He's another story! He inhales the slate-gray sky like it's full of jasmine, like the smell of this place is a total thrill. Then he clomps down the metal staircase to the runway. I mean, I'm sure he's clomping, but I can't hear his footsteps; I can't even see him very well, because the storm is that vicious, that wild.
When he reaches the runway, he turns to make sure that I'm following. But I'm not. I'm not going.
"Have a lovely day," the flight attendant says. "Thank you for flying Air Malawi."
Rain screams down from the sky. Lightning too. Here I am, five years old again, standing on the edge of the high diving board. I suck in my breath and squeeze my eyes shut. One, two, three! Then I do it. I run down the steps and wait to be taken to my death—too young and too suddenly—just like my mom.
Posted July 24, 2012
I can't imagine being thirteen and losing my mother. I have had many students who have had to go through this heart-rending situation. What made this story even more emotional was knowing that Clare's father pulled her from everything and everyone she knew and loved and moved her to Malawi for six months. Her father was excited to go back to a country he had worked in before. Clare had decided to give her dad the silent treatment for the entire six months. It's funny how meeting someone who has lost more than you have, and learning that there is always a silver lining if you look for it hard enough can help you heal and grow.
Clare is stubborn, intelligent, artistic and very loving. She has let the pain of losing her mother guide her for too long. In Malawai she learns she has much to offer others as well as watching as others who have lost so much more give everything. This was not an easy book to read. It is a book I will put at the front of my class on the first day of school and recommend to all of my students. I am trying to create global minded students. My students may not be able to travel to Malawi or any other country less fortunate than we are here in the USA. Through books like this one they will learn so much about what it takes to truly give of yourself. They can learn that the simplest gesture can make a difference. The fact that the book is full of information and facts because the author has been to Malawi holds great weight with me. I loved the vocabulary throughout the book. It is something else my students will love.
The book was so wonderfully written I could envision Clare's first encounter with a hippo and her shock at the school compared to her school back home. The author did a wonderful job of bringing the reader along with her to Malawi. I felt like I was a character walking beside Clare, Memory and Agnes. I will definitely read more by this author. I look for great books to recommend to my students and my parents for their children. This book is not just for middle schoolers or young adults. This is a book that even adults will enjoy. If you read no other book this year, this is the one you must read.
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Posted December 26, 2012
This book is really good, I could not put it down until I finished it. It is very interesting and is now one of my personal favorites!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
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Posted October 23, 2012
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