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Magpie Gabbard and the Quest for the Buried Moon Hardcover – March 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—On the day she was born, Margaret Magpie Gabbard was given a legacy from her grandpa-a cussedness to carry on the fight against the no-good Sizemore clan forever-and a prophecy, by the Moon herself, to rise above the fighting, put her cussedness to good use, and "save us all." Thirteen years later, on October 2, 1872, Magpie calls upon her "magical birthday sparkles" to aid her travels "down-mountain," from eastern Kentucky into Tennessee to return her brother's foot. This puts the prophecy into outrageous motion. Big Mama had chained Milo's ankle to keep him from leaving, so he chopped off his foot when God came to get him. Now Maggie must return the foot so he can get out of Purgatory and be on his way to High Jerusalem (heaven). Each rollicking adventure gets more preposterous than the last as Magpie encounters the Cob Hollow Goblins who buried the Moon, a floating Head who holds a special key in his mouth, and a magical boar that can travel through time. Keehn captures Appalachian colloquialisms and language to perfection while maintaining an action-packed, rip-snorting, hilarious pace that never lets readers go. The feisty heroine brings together the two rival clans and saves the Moon, and brother Milo gets to "walk through the pearly gates" on two feet in this well-connected rambunctious celebration of the tall tale. An original that just might be even more entertaining when read aloud.—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH
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From Booklist

Keehn, who wrote Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen (2005), offers an original tale featuring Magpie Gabbard, a Kentucky mountain lass who is called upon to save the world shortly after her thirteenth birthday. At the story's beginning, Magpie tells readers that she hopes to find her brother and return his chopped-off foot. But soon Magpie learns that she must free the buried moon, which has been captured by Goblins and trapped on earth. From Granny's prophesying kettle to a severed (but still conversing) head trapped in a well, the story is full of magical elements. Readers may grow impatient with the many early references to the brother's foot, which goes unexplained too long. Those who persevere, however, will find themselves charmed by the novel's tall-tale tone and rooting for Magpie in her ultimate quest. Drawing on elements of British folklore consistent with Appalachian heritage, Keehn writes an original, down-home American fantasy about a girl with the gumption to fulfill a prophecy. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 770L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel; First Edition edition (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399243402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399243400
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,682,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By ellen marie on February 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is so refreshing. It is a fantasy set in Appalachia in 1872. Based on a little known fairy tale, the story incorporates elements of the original fairy tale, Appalachian folklore, and historical/geographical aspects in a truly captivating way. From the first words, the reader is hooked by Magpie's incredible voice as well as the fantastic scenario.

Milo needs his foot, so that he can get to High Jerusalem to play in the choir. Magpie is the only one who can deliver it to him, but that's not all--the moon is missing, and Magpie is also the only one who can save her and only by bridging the gap between to warring families.

The voice in this book is what stands out. Magpie is a strong female character, but boys love her, too. The thing that really captures readers and keeps them going, however, is the imaginative plot. Although Keehn is drawing from several established legends and fairy tales, the text is fresh and surprising. There are no shocking revelations. Young readers will predict many of the outcomes, but it's a fairy tale--we already know the ending, right? That isn't the point. The journey's the thing, and oh what a journey it is.

I read this to my fourth grade class, and they are on the edge of their seat from beginning to end. This is a terrific book for reluctant readers male and female.

Violence and Sexual Content: Milo cuts off his foot, and the foot is kept on the mantle, stolen by Magpie, and carried around in her pocket. It is wondrously devoid of decay. Scarey goblins figure prominently. The scratch at doors and windows, and have their fingers smashed with pots. The head of a beheaded man floats in a well, and offers direction as a kind of oracle.
At the end of the book, Magpie receives her "monthlies."
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Format: Hardcover
I like fantasies about princesses and British wizards as much as the next person, but it was wonderful to meet up with Magpie Gabbard and follow her breathlessly on her daisy chain of quests through the Kentucky mountains. Though you won't find the word "hillbilly" in the book, Magpie and her clan have a Hatfield-and-McCoy-worthy feud going on with the clan down the mountain. The feud is only one of a number of deftly intertwined plot lines--read this rollicking tale to learn about everything from the the spot on a time-traveling wild boar where the key must be inserted to procedures for handling goblins when they hang around on the porch at night like a bunch of supernatural gangbangers. And then there's the foot: you've got to love a book that starts out, "I mean to visit my brother Milo and give him back his foot." Author Sally Keehn draws on the American tall tale tradition as well as on fairy tale motifs such as the head in the well (who wants his hair combed) and the moon buried in a swamp by goblins. Did I mention that Gabbard honey has teeth-whitening properties, or that Granny Goforth has a prophesying kettle? Face it: we are living in a time when there's a real glut of fantasy on the children's literature market, and many of the books seem to blur together into one big blob of mediocre language and laborious plot construction. But not this book, fortunately--Magpie Gabbard is a standout.
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Format: Hardcover
This wonderful book starts with one Magpie Gabbard needing to get her brother's foot back to him. She knows she'll have to brave Goblins, the vicious Sizemores, and her mother's wrath. Not to mention a wild hog. This book grabs you from the beginning and NEVER LETS GO to the very end, which is surprisingly moving and completely satisfying. You will do well to buy a copy for every kid you know, and keep one for yourself.
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