Listen to the Moon

352p. Feiwel & Friends. Oct. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250042040.
RedReviewStarGr 5 Up—The place: the Scilly Isles, off the coast of Cornwall, England. The time: May 1915, during the bleak early days of World War I when German U-boats patrol the seas and sink British ships. While fishing near a deserted island, Alfie Wheatcroft and his father hear a child crying and discover a sick, traumatized, speechless girl. "Lucy" is all she can say, and "Lucy Lost" is what she is named. Alfie and his parents take her in, and although she slowly recovers her physical health, she remains silent. Brief glimpses of who she might be—her ability to tame the cantankerous workhorse Peg, her skill at drawing, her adoration of music—tantalize the islanders. Early tales that Lucy is part mermaid or ghost, though, soon veer into suspicion that she's actually a German spy, and vicious persecution follows. Since chapters about the Wheatcrofts alternate with the recollections of Canadian American Merry MacIntyre, who is traveling to Liverpool aboard the Lusitania, readers are well aware of Lucy's real identity and root for her recovery all the way. This is a superbly written, gripping novel of friendship, family, healing, and war that is primarily geared toward middle school readers but will appeal to adults as well. By framing Listen to the Moon as a historical study, quoting fictional primary sources, and including helpful background information, Morpurgo may also inspire students to interview relatives and document their own family stories.
VERDICT This is one of Morpurgo's best works to date; a first purchase for middle grade and teen collections.

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