The Barnes & Noble Review
First-time author Georgia Byng mesmerizes audiences with an entrancing tale about a down-and-out orphan who hypnotizes her way to big-time adventures.
Molly Moon is treated like dirt in her squat English orphanage, with only her pal Rocky, starry Qube soda ads, and the library stacks to give her comfort. After she discovers Hypnotism: An Ancient Art Explained in her favorite library spot, Molly begins learning the ropes and takes mental control of Petula, the orphanage's grumpy pug dog, and the nasty staff members. But when Molly finds out that Rocky's been suddenly adopted in New York, she hypnotizes her way to the city, into Broadway stardom, and -- unfortunately -- into a wicked professor's plot to rob a high-security bank. Thankfully, though, she and Rocky finally meet up, and with a few surprises, the two hatch a plan to set things right for themselves and for their orphanage.
A dazzling story that features a magnetic heroine with heart, Byng's adventure will lure readers from the start and won't let them go. Molly's abilities are enough to make any budding hypnotism aficionado envious, and while she uses them self-advancement in the beginning, they become a force for good as she grows as a person and as a friend. There's enough lighthearted reading here to keep any kid's eyes... from...getting...heavy....
Ah, hypnotism: a subject sure to grab and hold young readers' attention. Follow the adventures of orphan Molly Moon as she escapes a life in England so dismal it is humorous: bath water at the orphanage is measured in centimeters and dinner is slimy fish slathered in greasy cheese and nut sauce. Of course Hardwick House is stocked with suitable villains, including a smarmy headmistress who spends three hours every Saturday having her bunions and corns attended to, and fellow orphan Gordon Boils who makes snot sandwiches and eats them! The only bright spot in Molly's life is her best friend Rocky. When Rocky is suddenly adopted and whisked away to America, Molly decides she has to escape. Molly's ticket to fame and fortune is a book of hypnotism techniques she finds at the library. First, she wins a cash prize at a talent show by hypnotizing the audience and then it's off to New York City. In the Big Apple, Molly becomes the darling of Broadway, reunites with Rocky, foils a bank robber, and saves her pug, Petula. Molly Moon is a likable and predictably plucky heroine—a mix of Little Orphan Annie and Harry Potter. Toward the end of the book the tone becomes a bit preachy on several subjects, most notably what truly brings us happiness—certainly not fame or fortune, but friends. 2002, HarperCollins,
Connie Van Hoven
Gr 4-6-The melodramatic tale of a much-abused orphan who discovers a hidden talent and escapes from a brutal home life may seem familiar, but author Georgia Byng has created a character who is much larger than the talent she unleashes (HarperCollins, 2003). Molly Moon's life at Hardwick House for Orphans is terrible. Things seem their darkest when her best friend Rocky is adopted and leaves for America. Molly ocassionally hides in the library, and one day she stumbles upon a book of hypnotism and learns that all of the qualities for which her classmates have teased her are actually assets to a hypnotist. Molly cleverly hones her skills and hypnotizes her way to Broadway, fame, and fortune. Evil Professor Nockman knows of the book's powers, and will stop at nothing to use the book and Molly to achieve his evil goals. Molly, a strong and principled character, never loses sight of what really matters in life, and the final chapters find her back at Hardwick House, bravely leading the other children to a better way of life. Kate Burton brings the rags-to-riches story to life with a broad range of voices and accents, from a cultured British tone to a gruff Chicago snarl. Her British pronunciations add genuineness to the text, and her soft and introspective voice of Molly makes her an even more sympathetic character, contrasting well with the other characters. Fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events and the Harry Potter books will appreciate this plucky little orphan, and will hope for a sequel. David Heyman, producer of the Harry Potter movies, has bought the book's motion picture rights.-MaryAnn Karre, Horace Mann Elementary School, Binghamton, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Orphan Molly Moon is unloved and unlovely. The other children pick on her, as do the mean-spirited women who run Hardwick House Orphanage. Molly occasionally escapes to the Briersville library to avoid them all. One day she finds a mysterious tome on hypnotism hidden in the stacks and discovers her real talent. With her newfound skill, she is able to change her luck and her life, getting out of the orphanage to win the local talent competition, and ending up in New York City, where she hypnotizes the entire city into making her a child star. However, evil Professor Nockman will stop at nothing to get the book. A flashy, holographic cover will attract readers. Most of the characters within begin as caricatures, either very good or (more often) very, very bad. Their outlandish adventures are reminiscent of those of the Baudelaire siblings in Lemony Snicket's popular "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books (HarperCollins) with some big differences. Molly Moon's story doesn't match their clever and elegant way with words, but it does have something they lack-a satisfying and very moral ending. There is no cliff-hanger here, as Molly atones for the conniving and devious use of her skills, goes back to the orphanage to make amends, and even uses her talents to turn the worst of the bad guys into good guys. Recommend this lengthy novel to fans of Lemony Snicket's books and similar adventures.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A how-to manual rescues Molly Moon from her orphanage and its vile inhabitants in an odd mixture of grotesque silliness and moral inspiration. For ten years, Molly has been the lowest of the low. Wicked Miss Adderstone orders her to scrub all the toilets with her toothbrush as punishment for having a bath with more than ten centimeters of water. Mean Hazel Hackersly and Gordon Boils (who eats snot sandwiches) torture her incessantly. Her only friend, Rocky, moved to America. But a book of hypnotism endows Molly with hope. With her huge eyes and droning voice, Molly soon hypnotizes everyone in town. She sets off after Rocky and hypnotizes her way into stardom and a room at the Waldorf. Alas, Molly acquired the book by tricking a wicked professor who will stop at nothing to get the riches hypnotism promises. Molly's solutions to problems are amusing and all evil is redeemed. The salvation of archetypically evil (and archetypically disgusting) villains is dissatisfying in a tale that seems otherwise to be drawing on Roald Dahl and Lemony Snickett. Clumsy, but amusing. (Fiction. 8-11)
Daily Telegraph (London)
“Another challenger for the crowns of JK Rowling and Philip Pullman.”
The Sunday Times (London)
Read an Excerpt
Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism
By Georgia Byng
HarperCollins ISBN: 006051406X
Chapter One Molly Moon looked down at her pink, blotchy legs. It wasn't the bathwater that was making them mottled like Spam; they were always that color. And so skinny. Maybe one day, like an ugly duckling turning into a swan, her knock-kneed legs might grow into the most beautiful legs in the world. Some hope.
Molly leaned back until her curly brown hair and her ears were under the water. She stared at the fly-specked yellow paint that was peeling off the wall and at the damp patch on the ceiling where strange mushrooms grew. Water filled her ears and the world sounded foggy and far away.
Molly shut her eyes. It was an ordinary November evening, and she was in a shabby bathroom in a crumbling building called the Hardwick House Orphanage. She imagined flying over it like a bird, looking down at its gray slate roof and its bramble-filled garden. She imagined flying higher until she was looking down on the hillside where Hardwick village lay. Up and up she went until Hardwick House became tiny. She could see the whole of the town of Briersville beyond it. As Molly flew higher and higher, she saw the rest of the country and now the coastline, too, with sea on all sides. Her mind rocketed upward until she was flying in space, looking down at the earth. And there she hovered. Molly liked to fly away from the world in her imagination. It was relaxing. And often, when she was in this state, she'd feel different.
Molly had this special feeling tonight, as if something exciting or strange were about to happen to her. The last time she'd felt special, she'd found a half-eaten packet of candy on the pavement in the village. The time before, she'd got away with watching two hours of evening television instead of one. Molly wondered what surprise would greet her this time. Then she opened her eyes and was back in the bath. She looked at her distorted reflection in the underside of the chrome tap. Oh dear. Surely she wasn't as ugly as that? Was that pink lump of dough her face? Was that potato her nose? Were those small green lights her eyes?
Someone was hammering downstairs. That was strange; no one ever mended anything in Hardwick House. Then Molly realized that the hammering was someone banging on the bathroom door. Trouble. Molly shot up and hit her head on the tap. The banging outside was very loud now, and with it came a fierce bark.
"Molly Moon, open this door at once! If you don't, I'll be forced to use a master key." Molly could hear keys rattling on a ring. She looked at the level of her bathwater and gasped. It was much too deep and well over the allowed level. She pulled the plug out and wrapped herself in her towel. Just in time. The door swung open. Miss Adderstone was in and darting to the bathtub, her scaly nose wrinkling as she discovered the deep, draining water. She rolled up her polyester sleeve and pushed the plug back in.
"As I suspected," she hissed. "Intentional flouting of orphanage rules."
Miss Adderstone's eyes glinted spitefully as she took a tape measure from her pocket. She pulled the metal strip out and, making excited slurping noises as she sucked on her loose false teeth, she measured how far Molly's bath had gone over the red line painted round the sides of the tub. Molly's teeth chattered. Her knees were now turning blue and blotchy, and the palms of her hands began sweating, as they always did whenever she was excited or nervous.
Miss Adderstone shook the tape measure, dried it on Molly's shirt, then snapped it shut. Molly braced herself to face the wiry spinster, who, with her short gray hair and hairy face, looked more like a Mr. than a Miss.
"Your bath is thirty centimeters deep," Miss Adderstone announced. "Allowing for the amount that had already been deceitfully run out while I was knocking at the door, I calculate that your bath was actually forty centimeters deep. You know that baths are only supposed to be ten centimeters deep. Your bath was four times that deep, so you have, in effect, used up your next three baths. So, Molly, you are forbidden to have a bath for the next three weeks. As for a punishment ..." Miss Adderstone picked up Molly's toothbrush. Molly's heart sank. She knew what was coming next.
Miss Adderstone glared at Molly with her dull, black eyes. Her face heaved in a monstrous way as her tongue dislodged her teeth and moved them around in her mouth before settling them back down on her gums. She thrust the toothbrush at Molly.
"This week you will be toilet monitor. I want the toilets spotless, Molly, and this is the brush you'll be using. And don't think you can get away with using the toilet brush, because I'll be watching you."
Miss Adderstone gave one last, satisfied suck on her teeth and left the room. Molly slumped down onto the side of the tub. So the something that she'd felt was going to happen tonight was simply trouble. She stared at her worn-out toothbrush, hoping that her friend Rocky would let her share his.
As she picked at a loose thread on her balding old towel, she wondered what it would be like to be wrapped up in a fluffy white towel like the ones in TV ads.
Softness is the sign, Everyone feels fine, Wash your towels in ... Clou-oud Ni-i-n-e.
Molly loved ads. They showed how comfortable and happy life could be-filled with friends-friends who were always happy to see Molly when she visited them in her mind.
Wrap yourself in luxury time Clou-oud Ni-i-n-e...
Excerpted from Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.