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Moon Pie by Simon Mason
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Moon Pie

by Simon Mason

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This book was a little 'younger' than I would normally venture into with my reading, but actually I'm really glad I did because it was fantastic! It is a sweet story about eleven year-old Martha, who looks after her house and her little brother Tug every day because her dad is never at home. Meanwhile HE is becoming more and more 'strange', doing reckless things and being silly all the time, to the point where even Tug is unimpressed. As it turns out, he has been steadily descending into alcoholism since their mother died - and things are about to reach crisis point...

It's certainly a serious subject, but as in Jacqueline Wilson's books, it is woven together with cheerier subplots (mostly about filmmaking - the children make their own movies with their friends), and it is handled with a lightness of touch that saves it ever getting too much for a young reader to handle. Things DO get bad - their lives are turned upside down by their father's illness - and there are some terribly poignant moments, but the novel shows the whole family working through their issues and ultimately reaching a happy ending. There is a truckload of wonderful humour to temper even the darkest of moments, and I have to say, the children are a delight: Mason nails their voices and little quirks so precisely, it's a joy to read. I particularly liked little Tug (who is always hungry, especially for pies) and Martha's flamboyant diva friend Marcus! And Martha is such a wonderful character to root for. She's like all my favourite young literary heroines rolled into one - a little Matilda, a little Anne Shirley, a little Jo March, a little Sara Crewe...

I think this would be a great book for older children and tweenage readers, and while I was reading it I was also struck by how good it would be for reading aloud in the classroom. There's plenty to discuss in terms of the more mature themes, but also plenty of giggle-out-loud crowd-pleasing moments as well (Tug is one of the funniest characters I've come across in AGES!). All in all, I'd highly recommend it - though parents might want to read it first to be sure their kids will be able to comprehend and handle the more graphic elements of the alcoholism storyline. ( )
2 vote elliepotten | Apr 5, 2012 |
I thought this book was very good. However, I really wanted to alert people to something I am concerned about. The cover is quite misleading regarding the contents of the book. The cover is a cute, comic style rendering of a girl looking slightly perturbed at her father and younger brother, who are enjoying a pleasant night-time picnic. However, in the book the girl, Martha, age 11, is valiantly trying to hold her family together while her father descends deeper and deeper into severe alcoholism after the death of his wife. Martha cooks, cleans, takes care of her younger brother, and tries to keep Social Services from learning how serious the situation is in order that she and her brother Tug won't be taken from their father. In one scene, the children come home to find their father passed out on the floor in a mess of his vomit and urine. They strip him down and clean him up (after rolling him away from the mess) and watch over him until he wakes two days later. Nevertheless, she can't stop his decline and ultimately is in a serious car accident with him when he is driving drunk. The two children are taken to their grandparents' home (the parents of their dead mother) and a court order is placed against the father. The grandmother is particularly severe and unpleasant because she believes in unyielding rules and firmness with children, and while Martha is actually relieved to have someone adult in charge finally, Tug acts out. By the end the father has completed 6 months of rehab and is doing much better, though the grandmother and Martha still distrust that he can stay sober.

This is a thoughtful book that faces a very real and disturbing problem head on. I do wish, though, that the cover were more reflective of its contents. There will be patrons (I work in a library) who will take this book out based on the cover and receive an eye-opening surprise inside. ( )
1 vote ChristianR | Jan 4, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385752350, Hardcover)

Someone has to keep their head, as Mum used to say, and 11-year-old Martha is used to being that someone in her family. Her little brother, Tug, is too small. Her dad has been acting too strange. And Mum's not here anymore.

So when Dad falls off the roof, it's Martha who ices his knee and takes him to the doctor. And when Dad doesn't come home, it's Martha who cooks Tug's favorite pie and reads him his bedtime story. And when Dad passes out, it's Martha who cleans him up and keeps his secret.

But eventually Dad's problems become too big for even Martha to solve, and she realizes it's not all up to her—there are people and places she can turn to.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:01 -0400)

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Eleven-year-old Martha tries to keep her family together after her mother's death as her father struggles with alcoholism.

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