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Friday, 14 January 2011

Moon Pie by Simon Mason

When I'm older, she thought, I'll remember this midnight picnic as a good thing. I'll forget that I was scared of the dark, and that Dad was strange. I'll remember the candles in the grass, like flowers made out of flame, and Tug dreaming of pie, and Dad telling me he loves me. Eleven-year-old Martha is used to being the one who has to keep their head. Tug, her little brother, is too small. Dad is too strange. And Mum's not here any more. 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 favourite 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. There is only one person who can sort things out now. Dad.
When I started to read this book I wasn't too sure I was going to enjoy it, however, it is one of those books that draws you in and by the end you really enjoy it.
Martha and Tug (Christopher) live with their father following their mother's death some years earlier. From the start of the book it is obvious that Martha does a lot of the work around the house, ensuring her younger brother is okay goes to school etc. Their father appears to be rather mad, trying to climb up to a small open window to get into the house, rather than asking the neighbour for the spare key when he locked them out of the house, taking the children on a midnight picnic, waking them from sleep one night. At the start of the book I was unaware of his issues and did not realise until they were revealed further into the book.
Martha loves to act and design costumes, like her late mother, and each Wednesday goes to her friends, Marcus's, to help him shoot Speed Movies, famous movies, condensed into a snapshot.
Martha decided her father needed to get fit, pull himself together and find work, however following an embarrassing scene at the local swimming pool and a disastrous dinner arranged by Martha with her friend and her mother, it becomes apparent that her father is an alcoholic. Martha visits the library to find out about the condition and how she can help her father, however matters take a turn for the worse following a car accident which leaves Martha and Tug living with their grandparents and her father disappears.
A few months later Martha's father appears in the park after school, however there is a court order preventing contact - however, Martha, Tug and their father continue to meet and they find their father has been in rehab and he has sorted his life out and wants his children back. He finds work, in his old profession where he puts Martha forward for the opportunity for her to follow in her mother's footsteps and realise her dream.
As I have previously said, I was unsure of this book to start off with, however once I got into it, I really enjoyed it. Martha wanted to look after her father and younger brother, to avoid anyone saying they cannot cope. She writes lists ensuring everything is done each day and also is becoming independent, learning to cook, not just simple cooking but proper meals, from scratch. When I was reading the book, I didn't realise her father was an alcoholic, however, once one of her friends pointed it out, I remembered the signs included throughout the book so far.
It is a well written book, which children aged 9+ would enjoy. It tackles the subject of parents with alcoholism however that is not the only story within the book. It is about friendship and laughter and working towards your dreams. Some dreams do come true and are worth working towards. I would recommend this to children and young adults as a good read.
Thank you to Michael at The School Run Forum for sending me this book to review.

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