5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2006
During the entire time I spent reading THAT GIRL LUCY MOON, I kept having the feeling that Lucy, the main character, was a girl who reminded me of someone else. Some other young girl that I'd read about in another book; someone similar, and yet different. Finally, it came to me. Lucy Moon reminds me of that wonderful free spirit, Stargirl Caraway, from Jerry Spinelli's award-winning young adult novel, Stargirl (Readers Circle). Believe me, this isn't a bad thing. If you've read Stargirl (Readers Circle), you'll know what I mean. If you haven't, that's okay, because you're about to get a big does of free spirit-ism, activism, elitism, and a whole bunch of other -ism's when you dive into your copy of THAT GIRL LUCY MOON.
Having just started middle school, Lucy quickly realizes that she's stepped foot on another planet--and that all of her schoolmates have suddenly turned into hormone-driven, soul-spitting aliens. Up until now, Lucy has always been a girl who has known her place in the world, has known her purpose and the things that drive her. She's always known that her parents love her (her mother, the equally free spirited artist, and her father, who can sometimes be distant), that it's her destiny to fight for those who can't fight for themselves, and that her best friend, Zoe, will always be by her side.
Lucy's defense of her green and yellow hemp hat is soon forgotten, though, when two kids from her school are arrested for sledding on Wiggins Hill. When the owner of said hill, Miss Ilene Viola Wiggins, goes so far as to put a fence up around the best sledding place in town, some type of action needs to be taken. So begins Lucy's new pursuit--getting her fellow classmates, and the entire town, to see that what Miss Wiggins is doing is wrong. But this activism doesn't immediately win her any friends; she is, in fact, ostracized by her school friends, threatened by the principal, and, in general, tormented because of her beliefs.
When you add in that Lucy's mother has somehow turned a picture-taking trip into a vacation from parenting, and that her dad doesn't seem to know what to do about it, what you end up with is an adolescent girl who has a lot on her shoulders. The joy of THAT GIRL LUCY MOON isn't just that it's a delightful coming of age story, or even that the "fight" against Miss Wiggins is a lesson in activism. The true gem, the delight that makes THAT GIRL LUCY MOON such a wonderful novel, is the very real feelings of hope and discouragement that mingle inside of the free spirit that is Lucy. Although similar to the aforementioned Stargirl, Lucy is a girl unlike any other you'll ever read about. For that alone you need to pick up a copy of THAT GIRL LUCY MOON, and find out for yourself just what type of heroine Lucy is. You might even realize that, inside of all of us, is that same hope mixed with discouragement that makes us human.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius"
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I was born contrary. Should you crow a little too loudly about how good this thing or that thing is, I immediately decide to set about sniffing out its flaws. I don't want to come across as easily won over. Never. You see where this is leading, don't you? For a while now I haven't been able to so much as glance at a children's literature blog without eventually seeing the writer go into fits of pure ecstasy over Amy Timberlake's, "The Girl Lucy Moon". Was I going to be so easily swayed by the pack? No sir! This "Lucy Moon" business was going to have to do a puh-reety good job if it wanted to win my heart any time soon. Thus thinking I picked it up, gave it a look-see and... uh...
I really really liked it. I've a soft-spot in my heart for books of kiddie activism. The excellent writing, plotting, and arc of the title just happened to be a nice plus.
Up until this moment in time, Lucy Moon has enjoyed a certain amount of infamy. Everyone in her elementary school knew who she was. She was the kid with the extra long braids and the yellow and green hemp hat that, when asked to remove the article, would launch into a well-rehearsed dialogue on the exploitation of Mexican workers, sometimes managing to work in a small "and did you know that hemp should be legal" speech on the side. She was the one who defended ants when boys fried them with magnifying glasses and led protests on a regular basis. But now everything's different. Lucy has just started the sixth grade in Middle School and she's not as sure of herself as she once was. To boot, her mother has taken off on a cross-country road trip in which she hopes to photograph cloud formations around the U.S. That might be okay (she does this sort of thing once a year) but this time she doesn't look as if she's coming back. Then two kids are arrested while sledding down Wiggins Hill. Immediately Lucy launches into action, reporting on the arrest when even the local papers refuse to and organizing a small protest against the most powerful woman in town, Miss Wiggins. What Lucy doesn't expect is the violent backlash against her small objections. Now she must face overwhelming punishment for acting within her rights while dealing with her personal issues at home.
It may be done on a small scale, but what this book is doing, to some extent, is rather epic. On the surface it may only be about a girl who goes head to head with the establishment and sees the extent to which it works against her. Expand it a little farther and this is about basic civil liberties. To object to the closing off of Wiggins Hill by Miss Wiggins, Lucy creates little postcards for the other kids in the school to send to the hill's owner. Sending postcards in this manner, if done politely, is not harassment nor, for that matter, illegal. Yet the entire process ends with Lucy threatened with suspension for even attempting such a thing. This is deeply unfair, but how different is it from actions taken against everyday citizens in this or any other country? "That Girl Lucy Moon" is about oppression, pure and simple, but rendered in a form that kids everywhere can understand. As a person, Lucy's defense of her beliefs makes perfect sense. She's the ideal heroine. Why does she fight? "She did it in order to release the pressure that injustice created inside of her". Still, there's more to her than that.
This defense of our civil liberties is coupled against two other central story elements. Timberlake, as an author, is setting up the theme of fighting oppression while also making Lucy a realistic human being. I mean, Lucy may fight against something bigger than herself, but she's not perfect by any stretch. When her friend Zoe makes up a remarkable imitation of the local town paper with the story of the sledders' arrest front and center, Lucy fails to give her any credit. Later on, Lucy is almost entirely beaten down by the forces she's trying to fight. Her response? Well, for a little while she just gives up entirely. All she wants to do is sleep all day, a classic case of depression. Though she's only in the sixth grade, Lucy has both a personal and professional life to balance, and neither one of them are going too smoothly. After all, finding herself living with just her father is like, "being left with a relative seen only on major holidays, maybe like an uncle who is an officer in the army and is used to a little authority". What impressed me was the degree to which Lucy's father, not someone she's really been close to in the past, comes through for her. There was a 30 second moment while I read this book when I thought that maybe Lucy's dad was going to drop the ball, leaving a huge plot gap in the center of the novel. Then Timberlake filled that gap with an expert hand and I was left feeling both relieved and impressed.
Then on top of all of this, Timberlake makes the book funny. No really! Think about how hard the two must be. To be honestly amusing and deal with huge issues on such a small scale... and then to make it funny to boot. Puberty in middle school? "But hormones were just chemicals, right? So if her reaction had been caused by a brain-chemical spill, like the Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska, there should be some sort of clean-up program to initiate". Or how about referring to an unattractive coat as being akin to "puppet flesh"? We can all debate amongst ourselves whether or not that or the later descriptor of calling a thrift shop shirt, "Grover fur", is funnier. Later, Lucy is asked to say what she is thankful for on Thanksgiving. "There was a long pause as she tried to think thankful thoughts. It was like waiting for a herd of tortoises to climb a hill".
And then the writing itself is often prone to the occasional spark of beauty. "Sledders dreamed about that extra slide, when the air turned so blue that the whole world looked like it was underwater, and the only light came from reflection of the dusk moon on the blue-white snow". Magnificent.
The story also puts into words the small truths that exist in this world but go unnoticed until someone is able to write them down on paper. For example, eventually the kids in Lucy's school decide to give her their support. This might strike some as out of character, but Timberlake is able to back it up. "... the kids at the junior high began to feel the invoking of that ancient line in the sand that separates kids from adults: the us and them, the out-of-the-know and the in-the-know, the powerless and the powerful". You could say as much for any oppressed people when a member of their community is punished as an "example". Finally, another thing the book did that few children's books think to is illustrate the degree to which it is important for kids to sometimes get apologies, "unembellished with excuses".
There have been quite a few interesting books in which a kid is ostracized or, worse still, actively disliked by the majority of their school's student body. "Home, and Other Big, Fat Lies", by Jill Wolfson was one such example. Few books really bring the idea home quite as well as "Lucy Moon", though. The ups and downs of middle school popularity (to say nothing of whether or not its even worth it) are cataloged here in shockingly realistic detail. My friends, I wasn't just won over by this book. I was bowled over by this book. It fully deserves the acclaim it's undoubtedly going to receive. I haven't even found a way to mention so many of the other things I liked about this book. Things like the pure Minnesotan taste of it all, or the fact that the local radio station plays things like, "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" on the Theremin. So let's just end this review with the last lines in the book. "At the junior high, things continued on, except that some students began to question. Questions turned out to be a bigger thing than most of them realized".
This year's must-read book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2007
I am picky about children's literature. As a librarian, I have to be. But it also means that I read...a lot. And this little gem of a book is hands down one of my favorites of the year. I have handed it to many children, and no one has been disappointed.
Young Lucy is missing her mother, who has left her and her father on an extended road trip. She is a square peg in a round hole and she likes it that way. But is sixth grade ready for Lucy?
A delightful read through and through. I true rarity in today's publishing world.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2006
This could be one of my favorite books. This book had a little bit of everything in it. It showed so many sides to Lucy's character and she wasn't just an average junior high girl that always ends up in books. The book also had lot of cliff hangers that made me stay up reading and reading to find out what happens to Lucy next or what new protest idea she came up with this time. There was also some drama of Lucy's mom being gone on a photography journey for almost eight months! It also had romance with her new friend Sam and even some friendship problems with her best friend since forth grade Zoë. This is a great book for girls from about eleven to fourteen.
on January 22, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book demonstrates for young people what most adults have learned the hard way, that many times life is just not fair. However, if we have the courage to persevere and stand up for what we believe in, the outcome may be better than we ever anticipated. But even if not, we have been true to ourselves, demonstrated our integrity, and can take pride in what we have done.
on May 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This book is my favorite book ever! I met Amy Timberlake when I was little and got a signed copy of the book-but I didn't read it until this year. It is the best book I have ever read and I read a lot of books! I love that Lucy Moon is so brave and that all her friends stick by her. I would recommend this book to everyone-if you have not read this book you should! It is a must read!
on November 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Wow. I love, love, love this book!!! It is one of my all time favorite books and definitely worth reading. I recommend this!
I would rate this six stars if I could because it is so original. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about it. First off, I love how all of the characters develop, not just the protagonist, Lucy. The mother Josephine learns how important her daughter is and how unkind it is to leave her. Lucy and Zoe learn the importance of friendship and to accept each other for who they are. The father, arguably, changes most drastically of all. At the beginning of the book, we see him as a football-loving, magazine-reading old guy, but at the end of the book there is such a bond between him and Lucy that you could never guess this. And Mrs. Wiggins even changes too, realizing that power and authority is to be used for the better, not only for yourself.
I also love this book because the main character, Lucy Moon, is so unique. She stands up for herself and what she wants, but also for others: sledding children, deer, other animals, her friends and family...the list goes on. Lucy is 100% the type of person who will speak out against injustice. Look at her green and yellow hat. She doesn't wear it for appearance or even practicality; she wears it to stand up for the rights of Mexican workers. I have not come across any character even similar to this girl. She is flawed: impulsive, at times disrespectful, and a protester to the core, but that is what makes her so real. Love you, Lucy!
Finally, this book is really well written. The gifted author makes sentences, paragraphs, and chapters flow together like water. When I read this book, I felt like I was in the story, not just reading words off a paper. The emotions and theme are so deep that I cried at the end! A beautifully written story.
Thank you so much, Amy Timberlake! Please write more! You are amazing!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"And Lucy attended detention -- an after-school club for the activist!"
"We can change the world, rearrange the world,
It's dying to get better."
--Graham Nash, "Chicago"
The fact is, I can totally enjoy the humor when a children's book author
uses the concept of tofu for Thanksgiving as the butt of a joke. Amy
Timberlake's THAT GIRL LUCY MOON now joins Denys Cazet's hysterically funny MINNIE AND
MOO AND THE THANKSGIVING TREE in that regard. But you have to also figure
that if I'm going to speak up about this awesome tale of a sixth-grade
activist named Lucy Moon then, as a fellow activist as well as a vegetarian for 28
years, one who has been grateful to consume tofu for many a Thanksgiving,
I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity to begin educating y'all about
the wonders of having a tofu feast with all the trimmings. And so I'll share
with you the Richie method of preparing tofu that everyone around here
(hard-core carnivores included) always comes grabbing seconds and thirds of:
1 lb. packages of tofu (The ultimate in my part of the world is White Wave
Tidal Wave Organic Extra Firm)
Red Star Large Flake Nutritional Yeast
Extra virgin Olive Oil
San-J Organic Wheat-Free Tamari
Directions: Drain tofu and slice each one pound package into eight slices.
Heat skillet on medium high and pour in sufficient olive oil to cover the
bottom of the skillet. When the oil is hot, arrange the tofu slices in the
skillet and fry until they are completely golden on the first side. Just before
flipping over the tofu, spoon a generous covering of the nutritional yeast
over the uncooked side of each slice. Flip over the tofu and add a bit more
olive oil so that the yeast doesn't scorch. When the tofu slices are golden on
both sides, lightly splash tamari over them, wait 30 seconds, flip them over
one more time, and then remove them from the skillet.
(If you're figuring on having mashed potatoes with the tofu, then a gravy
can be made with the tofu "drippings" by using some of the potato water, some
thinned-down red miso, along with a bit of corn starch and water if you want
to thicken the consistency a bit.)
That this year's holiday will turn out to not be a stellar Thanksgiving for
Lucy Moon will have relatively little to do with her misguided attempt to
prepare a tofu main course without the benefit of Richie's recipe for killer
yeast tofu. At such a pivotal juncture in her life -- the beginnings of junior
high -- Lucy is facing the mysteries and new dynamics of school, along with
the sudden development of her best friend Zoe, all without the benefit of
Lucy's mother. Mom, an artsy and idiosyncratic photographer who clearly must
have been there to support Lucy's well-documented activist past in elementary
school, has set out on a trip around the country to take pictures of clouds
over a variety of landscapes. But instead of returning when she is supposed to,
as has always been the case with previous years' photo excursions, Lucy's
Mom will opt to both indefinitely extend her adventures and to distance
herself emotionally as well as geographically from her only child and from Lucy's
dad, the town postmaster.
"And the strangeness of junior high didn't stop there. No, as the weeks
went on, the sixth graders had developed other signs of junior-high sickness.
When teachers turned their back, notes about who liked who traveled palm to
palm, and books with dog-eared pages describing people 'doing it' were read
under lips of desks. In elementary school -- only five months ago -- everyone
had acted normal. Now, after a summer and a couple of months in junior high,
they were cliched characters from a drippy teen movie!"
It will be an interesting debate among those middle schoolers who have the
good fortune to read THAT GIRL LUCY MOON in a class or book group. Question:
Is Lucy's biggest obstacle to serenity and success in middle school going to
be overcoming the boys' obnoxious hallway bra checks (with a number 2
pencil), other annoyances engaged in by her harmonally-challenged peers, along with
the formation of cliques and the boy/girl groupings; OR is it going to be
dealing with the damage suffered as the result of the war of wills in which
Lucy becomes engaged with Miss Ilene Viola Wiggins, the town's moneybags
matriarch, who apparently decides to show Lucy who is really in charge of Turtle
Aided by the story's lack of malls, laptops, and contemporary communications
devices (The two best friends keep in touch by walkie-talkie, while
communication with Mom consists of phone calls and letters.), author Amy Timberlake
does an exceptional job of setting up Turtle Rock, Minnesota as its own
little world, a town unto itself. Furthermore, the author gives the impression
that she must have spent a bit of her own childhood happily entertained by
Garrison Keillor, for we encounter clever, folksy references to what the local
radio station is playing and the Minnesota climate quickly settles in as one of
the story's omnipresent and colorful characters:
"After that first November snowstorm, the clouds continued to bring snow to
Turtle Rock -- no blizzards, but steady, steady workaday snow. There was
light, dry snow -- barely visible, but making the air and everything seen
through it sparkle. There was the kind of snow that came assembly-line fashion,
one snowflake rushing after the next. This snow lasted all day and into the
night. And then there were the big flakes that floated out of the sky,
drifting like daisy petals -- 'She loves me...She loves me not...She loves me.' The
snow piled up in curbs, outlining trees, causing the tops of pines to
genuflect under the weight. When the wind blew, long strands of snow combed over
land and road."
When faced with an onslaught of adversity as a result of her activist
impulses, Lucy Moon is compelled to consider why she is inclined to act in such a
manner. To watch how she engages in self-reflection in regard to that
behavior will undoubtedly cause many astute young readers to ask why they act (or
fail to act) when they encounter injustice in their own lives.