Over Olympia and Leah’s heads, Americans race the Russians to the moon; on their television sets young men fight and struggle in the mud of Viet Nam; and America holds its breath between heartbreaking tragedies.
But on Miss Brinker’s school bus, in the seat with the rip in the green plastic, Olympia and Leah fall in love, the way children do: immediately, completely, and without knowing or caring why they shouldn’t. Olympia Crooms, with her happy hair, and Leah Breck, with her silly red dog, are two smart girls.
Olympia’s father works other men’s orange groves in rural Central Florida and tells his daughter that school is the best way to reach for the stars. Leah’s father moves his family from the Space Coast to the country where she and her brother can climb orange trees, imagine lions in the tall grass, and learn to feed baby cows milk from a bottle.
At Evegan Elementary, two smart girls find each other and have to decide if they will learn the hardest lessons of all: the false traditions of their fathers.
I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.
Mooncalf is for middle school readers. The writing is simple enough for readers a little younger but I wouldn’t recommend it because of the content.
The story is set in the sixties and deals with the issues of being “the new kid” as well as prejudice. It is about a friendship that is quickly formed between Leah, the new girl in school, and Olivia, a black girl who is going to the same elementary school. Leah doesn’t realize that Olivia is any different from her until it’s pointed out to her by her parents. She soon realizes, however, that maybe her parents aren’t always right and that she still wants to be friends with Olivia.
I enjoyed this book and even though it’s obviously geared toward younger readers, I think adults would like it as well. It’s not only a good story but it also has some history. It touches on some of the events of that time such as the race with Russia to have the first man on the moon, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Vietnam. There was a lot of information about orange trees that I mostly skipped over because it didn’t really interest me, but that is a personal preference.
Mooncalf is a sweet but tragic story that will stay with the reader for a long time after they’ve finished reading it.
Praise for Mooncalf
“One of the most admirable things about Mooncalf is that it’s difficult to find a single wasted word in the entire book. Granted the book is short; yet, it is very rare to find a book which treats with such delicacy the choosing of each word–each adjective, verb, and noun. Themes, motifs, and symbols are everywhere throughout Mooncalf, and most impressive of all none of it is discarded. Motifs and themes exist in big and small circles in Mooncalf, circling back in on themselves as well as intertwining themselves with the plot and the characters that inhabit it. And those motifs and themes, those messages and those symbols, don’t go away once you’ve finished the book. They stick with you. It’s hard to forget Mooncalf.”” ~ The Thousander Club
“I never expected to be moved to tears by a book meant for adolescents. Buy it, read it, share it, and let yourself be changed by it.” ~Lacey Smith
Linda Zern is a native of Florida where she learned to be moonstruck.
She wrote her first children’s chapter book, The Pocket Fairies of Middleburg, in 2005. Writer’s Digest called “the perspective of these tiny beings [the pocket fairies] refreshing, enchanting, and intriguing.”
Florida Publisher’s Association was kind enough to award her little book the President’s Book Award for best children’s book of 2005.
Mrs. Zern has since published an inspirational book, The Long-Promised Song, serving as both writer and illustrator. Three collections of her humorous essays (ZippityZern’s Uncommon Nonsense) can be found at Smashwords.com, and her award winning essays have been recognized and published at HumorPress.com.
Her current project, Mooncalf, is her first work of historical fiction for Middle School readers. Set in rural Central Florida, the author tells the story of two misfit girls and the hard lessons they must learn about friendship and love from their friends, their families, and their world.
The mystical state of Florida remains an enchanted and delightsome place for both Mrs. Zern and her husband of thirty plus years, and so they continue to make their home among the palmettos and armadillos in the historic town of Saint Cloud.
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