She might not be as photogenic as Harry Potter, but the charming Molly Moon makes up the difference in pluck in this somewhat similar story of a put-upon English orphan who finds that she has abilities beyond her wildest imagining.
Georgia Byng's debut novel has already swept to such success that it's due for translation in over 20 countries, with a movie version following close behind (produced by Harry Potter's David Heyman, natch). And with such a genuinely likeable (if straightforward) story and heroine, it's not hard to see why. Molly Moon struggles to survive in Hardwick House, an orphanage apparently run by and for caricatures--the beastly mistress Miss Adderstone and her bad-tempered pug, the muscly Gordon Boils (who tattooed "KING GORD" on the fingers of his fists with a compass and ink), creepy Roger Fibbin with his "sharp nose and cold, spying eyes." But as all wish-fulfillment adventures must go, Molly's life is changed one fateful day, as an arcane book draws out her special talent--she can hypnotize anybody to do anything she wants!
Byng makes good use of her otherwise mundane cast with plenty of wry asides (like Molly's fixation on the transformative promise of advertising), great running jokes (especially the metamorphosis of the orphanage's hard-boiled cook into a proud Italian capocuoco), some clever plot sleight-of-hand, and ample funny descriptions (as when Molly finds herself in the Royal Suite at the Waldorf: "She wasn't sure about the Jacuzzi. It was like ten monsters farting in her bath all at once."). (Ages 9 to 12) --Paul Hughes
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6-Orphan Molly Moon is unloved and unlovely. The other children pick on her, as do the mean-spirited women who run Hardwick House Orphanage. Molly occasionally escapes to the Briersville library to avoid them all. One day she finds a mysterious tome on hypnotism hidden in the stacks and discovers her real talent. With her newfound skill, she is able to change her luck and her life, getting out of the orphanage to win the local talent competition, and ending up in New York City, where she hypnotizes the entire city into making her a child star. However, evil Professor Nockman will stop at nothing to get the book. A flashy, holographic cover will attract readers. Most of the characters within begin as caricatures, either very good or (more often) very, very bad. Their outlandish adventures are reminiscent of those of the Baudelaire siblings in Lemony Snicket's popular "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books (HarperCollins) with some big differences. Molly Moon's story doesn't match their clever and elegant way with words, but it does have something they lack-a satisfying and very moral ending. There is no cliff-hanger here, as Molly atones for the conniving and devious use of her skills, goes back to the orphanage to make amends, and even uses her talents to turn the worst of the bad guys into good guys. Recommend this lengthy novel to fans of Lemony Snicket's books and similar adventures.Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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