Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Friday, November 25, 2016

Moon Shadow by Erin Downing

How I Heard About It:  I think Erin Soderberg Downing was one of the first authors I had the opportunity to meet in person.  We have started a yearly tradition where she visits my fourth grade classroom for our "Breakfast with Books" book club about the Quirks Series.  During one conversation, she mentioned she was working on a new novel title Moon Shadow.  She recently sent me a manuscript copy of the book that will be released in May of 2017.  I like to call it "An Arc of an Arc".  Erin and I were able to spend some social time at #NCTE16 in Atlanta and talk about the story.  I wasn't done at that point, but she didn't spoil anything.  One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing how excited readers were to get a copy of this manuscript.  During the plane ride home I was hoping to finish the book, but after the exhausting and busy weekend, I found myself sleeping instead of reading.  Once I was back home, it was time to finish this new novel. 

What It Is About:  Lucia is about to have a "special" 13th birthday.  It happens to correspond with a special "eclipse".  She wants to celebrate her birthday while witnessing the lunar eclipse.  Lately, Lucia has had a difficult time of it after "losing" her best friend Will to the most annoying "mean" girl Velvet.  Lucky for Lucia she has become "true" friends with Anji and Jonathan.  The three of them head to Velvet's party on the night of the eclipse & birthday.  While at Velvet's party, Lucia finds herself alone, lost, and discombobulated.  After returning to the "reality" of the party and party goers, she realizes she has "lost" some time she can't account for.    What she does know, is that the moonstone she carries around with her, has something to do with the strange events happening to her.  She doesn't want to rely on her mother for answers because she has left the family and headed to Sweden.  Lucia could tell her father and older sister, but they are dealing with their own issues after the mother left.  After several more "moments" of lost and unaccounted time, Lucia knows she must confide in someone and figure out what is going on and what the moonstone has to do with the disappearances of her old self and the appearance of a newer "braver" and "stronger" self. 

What I Thought Of It:  I noticed right off the bat that the writing of Erin Soderberg with the Quirks and the writing of Erin Downing with this new middle-school novel were very different from each other.  I'm always amazed when authors can write completely different depending on who their audience is.  From the very first page I was hooked.  I'm the type of reader who needs to be grabbed right away or I have a hard time focusing and really getting "into" the story.  At first I read this as a realistic fiction story because I really didn't know much about the plot.  As I read more and more, I realized there were aspects of mystery and fantasy sprinkled throughout the pages.  This made me "giddy" as a reader.  Lucia had a lot to deal with as a character and she handled these bizarre happenings to her with grace, confidence, and bravery.  The supporting characters of Velvet, Anji, and Jonathan added greatly to Lucia's world and the reading of this story.  The more that Lucia "disappeared", the more I wanted to find out what was actually going on.  The conclusion and "answers" were satisfying and pitch-perfect. 

Who Should Read It:  This is the perfect novel for readers in grades six, seven, and eight.  Female readers may be more drawn to it than males, but can definitely be geared toward both.  We are actually starting a girls sixth grade "book tour" with the novel and then an author book club discussion.  I know the sixth graders in our building are going to love this story.  It was so fun to see Erin share this latest work of hers with adult readers at #NCTE16 and I know they will enjoy the story just as much as I did.  Happy Reading...

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

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