The Moon Over High Street

148p. Scholastic/Michael di Capua Bks. 2012. Tr $15.95. ISBN 978-0-545-37636-5; ebook $15.95. ISBN 978-0-545-39302-7. LC 2011926886.
Gr 4–7—Joe Casimir's parents died when he was only a few months old, and he has been raised by his paternal grandmother. The summer he is 12, Gran breaks her hip days before they are scheduled to visit their cousin in Ohio, so Joe is sent off alone. Once in Midville, he blooms under the comfortable companionship of Myra, her old friend Vinnie, and Beatrice, the quintessential girl next door. Then the richest man in town, Ansom Boulderwald, takes an interest in him as a possible heir to his business. Playing off Joe's fascination with meteors, Babbitt elegantly weaves the metaphor of a meteor about to come crashing into the boy's world to describe Boulderwald's proposal to adopt him and control his future. While set in the '60s, the story has a timeless quality to it, and segments of the writing soar with vivid figurative language. Boulderwald is not portrayed as totally evil, but his power and wealth, plus his wife's ruthless upwardly mobile striving, are viewed as empty goals, while Gran's and Myra's more humble views on the importance of family, friends, and following your heart win out. Joe is a hesitant, reserved kid who only allows himself to open up when he is comfortable with certain people. As a result, readers may have to work to understand his motivations. Nonetheless, there is an endearing quality in shy, reticent Joe and his small, but fiercely loving family, and much to ponder thematically here. Ultimately it will take that special discerning child to appreciate this thoughtful yet quirky novel.—Caroline Ward, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
Millionaire factory owner Anson Boulderwall is looking for someone to groom to be his business's next president. When orphan Joe arrives in town to stay with his aunt in the summer of 1965, Boulderwall decides that Joe will be the one. Joe, however, dreams of becoming a scientist. Babbitt's subtle prose cloaks and deepens this brief moral fable of American ambition.
Anson Boulderwall, a Polish American millionaire who has made it big with his "swervit" factory, is looking for someone to groom to be the business’s next president. And when Joe arrives in Boulderwall’s little Ohio town, Midville, to stay with his aunt in the summer of 1965, Boulderwall decides that Joe will be the one. For orphan Joe, however, Midville is wonderful because there, for the first time, he articulates his dream of becoming a scientist and finding "a way to make sure nothing bad ever happens to change the moon" -- partly because the moon was his comfort when his parents died. A future of business and doing Mr. Boulderwall’s bidding isn’t what he wants, but it takes the love of his Gran and aunt to give him courage to choose the moon over money. Babbitt’s subtle prose cloaks and deepens this brief moral fable of American ambition, ranging from the bald "Here in America, we like things to be big and beautiful" to the atmospheric "in the dimness the little farms had settled quietly behind rail fences, where cowsheds and hay barns were turning into comfortable shapes resting in their own shadows." deirdre f. baker

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