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Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Review: Northward to the Moon by Polly Horvath

Northward to the Moon by Polly Horvath
Buy Northward to the Moon by Polly Horvath

Northward to the Moon
by Polly Horvath

Schwartz & Wade Books
ISBN-10: 0-375-86110-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-86110-9
Publication Date: February, 2010
List Price: $17.99

Review: Polly Horvath’s Northward to the Moon, the sequel to My One Hundred Adventures, is an exciting and adventurous book. The main character, thirteen year old Jane, has a vivid imagination, and uses it to describe her family’s many adventures as they travel by car from their home in Saskatchewan, Canada, across the United States, to return to their beach house in Massachusetts. The family’s long road trip leads to a journey into Jane’s stepfather’s family background, and to a journey in growing-up and the importance of family.

Jane is the oldest of her four step siblings, and she, along with her mother, a Pulitzer-prize winning poet, Felicity Fielding, and stepfather, Ned, moved to Saskatchewan because Ned found a job teaching French in an elementary school. Unfortunately, within a year of moving there, Ned gets fired from his teaching job when it is discovered that he does not know how to speak French. Then, an old family friend of Neds, Mary, an elderly member of a Native American tribe, asks to see Ned again because she is dying. Ready for a strong spirit for adventure, Ned, Jane, and the rest of the family pack-up their things into their station wagon and head out on a road trip. Their travels initially take them to an Indian Reservation to see Mary, who had actually sheltered Ned when he was a young boy. From Mary, Jane and the family learn secrets of Ned’s past, and Ned is given a bag full of money which was supposedly left to him by his long lost brother. This mystery money leads the family on yet another adventure to meet a really funny character, Shirley. Shirley tells Jane and the family that Ned’s estranged brother is a famous magician who often disappears for weeks without notice. They also discover that Ned’s brother sometimes visits their mother’s ranch in the nearby town of Elko, Nevada. This news of his mother’s horse ranch catches Ned by surprise, and the family decides to continue on their road trip to pay her visit. During their visit to the ranch, Jane continues to use her imagination to find adventure in the smallest things, and continues along her own journey in growing-up. For instance, Jane develops a crush for a farm worker which, unfortunately, humiliates her and does not materialize into a formal romance. Jane’s broken heart takes her on a ‘healing’ horseback ride with her mother, Felicity, where Jane realizes that she and her stepfather, Ned, may share the same adventurous spirit, but that Ned used adventure in order to ‘get away’ from things in life, whereas Jane utilized adventure to ‘get to’ things in life. The remainder of the book continues to describe Jane’s vivid imagination and a number of other exciting family adventures along their journey back to Massachusetts.

Overall, Northward to the Moon, is a really good book. The author really amazed me with the level of humor and compassion that she put in developing all the characters, especially Jane. I have not read the prequel, My One Hundred Adventure, but I was still able to fully understand Jane’s character. However, even though this is a very well written book, the author leaves several unanswered questions to the story, such as: where did the bag of money come from, why did Jane’s crush steal the money, and is Jane’s younger sister, Maya, susceptible to mental imbalance? I believe the author has another follow-up book in the works that may help to answer some of these questions. Those who read this remarkable book will not be disappointed. Even though Jane’s adventures in growing up are things that most all kids can relate to, I would recommend this book for kids ages 11 and up due to some racy scenes like the description of Jane’s romantic dreams. All in all, this book deserves 4 out of 5 stars!

Review written by Ohm (6th grade student).

We would like to thank Schwartz & Wade Books for providing a copy of Northward to the Moon for this review.

Have you read Northward to the Moon? How would you rate it?

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