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The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon Hardcover – April 13, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—When timid, unadventurous Paul decides to go to the top of his apartment building to "touch the sky," it's a big deal. On the way he meets his neighbors, worries his parents, and makes a new friend in eccentric Mabel/Molly, who lives in the penthouse apartment and actually helps him touch the sky. Soon he discovers that the moon is a hole in the sky that is full of formerly airborne people and things caught there. It's all whimsical, totally unbelievable, and full of exhortation to live life, ask questions, don't make war, test out theories, be courageous, make friends, and so forth. Full-color and line illustrations lend cozy appeal for those beginning chapter-book readers who can tolerate the thematically overstuffed, disjointed, and arbitrary plot that gains Paul a new member of his family, new friends, and perhaps a new outlook on his sheltered life.—Susan Hepler, formerly at Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Urban daily life meets magical realism in this quirky tale of a boy overcoming shyness. Young Paul “simply didn’t like school, and school didn’t seem to like him.” Perhaps this is because of his unusual ideas. For example: Is the moon really a hole cut into the sky? A morning spent wandering his high-rise leads to meeting Molly, a wacky artist who drags him and his parents to see her brother, a recluse whose war experiences led him to hatch the same theory. If only there was a way to reach the moon to find out! Though rarely laugh-out-loud funny, Almond employs all manners of amusements (a flying dog, an obsessive elevator inspector, the truth behind the moon) while never losing sight of some refreshing realities: Paul’s parents are a real presence, and the city feels appropriately dense. Almond even pulls off one unforgettable, cinematic scene involving the high-rise denizens reaching from their windows to help lift a ladder to the building’s roof. Dunbar’s full-color illustrations, many stretching across two pages, nimbly dodge the prose. Grades 3-5. --Daniel Kraus
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Top customer reviews
A whimsical story full of the unbelievable where a lonely boy who lives in a basement apartment, is rather shy, and does not like school but then school does not like him either takes a day off learns about living life to the fullest through a set of quirky characters and fantastical events.
One must set reality aside for this story. The people and events that Paul meets up with are beyond belief. The book is a joy to read; told with such whimsy it is a very endearing story. Paul is encouraged to say what he's always wanted to say and out he spurts that the moon is really just a whole in the sky. He manages to climb into the moon where he finds all sorts of people and things that have flown into it over the ages: hot air balloons, planes, helicopters and their pilots, people with wings who tried to fly and even a girl who was a human cannonball. With the encouragement of the denizens of the apartment building he makes friends, realizes everyone agrees that sausages are better than war, watches others plan a Great Expedition, and sees how the others live their lives, however obscure, to the best they can.
If you can't leave reality outside the door this won't be the book for you but if you can you will be in for a delightful story which is profusely illustrated with drawings as whimsical as the story. The characters are a motley crew from a man who switches to speaking in only vowels when he's in a conversational mood, to a dog who believes that when he obtains the age of seven he will grow wings and the ability to speak, to a little girl who lives inside the moon because she ended up there one night whilst performing her job as Fortuna the Human Cannonball. I found as I read and looked at the pictures that I kept thinking the style of the story was so much like William Pene duBois, a classic children's author/illustrator. I can also see this making a very good read aloud. The story is quirky, unconventional and humorous.
Since many kids are fascinated by the moon (as my son is), this book takes the moon and makes it accessible in a new, fun, easy-to-get-to-way. My son enjoyed the story and the illustrations and we had fun commenting on all the bizarre characters that Paul, the main character, meets in his journey to the moon. A delightful, shorter book that I would agree would be appreciated by the second to fourth grade audience recommended -- and their parents who enjoy escaping from reality when they read.
The only disappointing element of the book was the fact that the ending seemed a little abrupt. I could see a sequel to this book being well received by those of us who enjoyed this title in order to explore more of what Paul learned and where this experience will take him in life.
And, yes, we will read another David Almond book.
Paul is a lonely boy in the north of England. He and his parents live in the basement of a 29-story apartment building, about as far from the sky as you can possibly get. So when Paul skips school one day, he decides to climb to the very top of his apartment building, to get a little closer to the sky. Little does he know, though, that this seemingly simple notion will result in the adventure of his life.
As he ascends his apartment building, Paul comes to know his eccentric and unusual neighbors, especially Molly (or is her name Mabel?), a vivacious woman who whisks Paul and his parents off on a journey, inspired by Paul's desire to touch the sky and see if his notion that the moon is merely a hole in the sky might actually be true after all.
Along the way, they meet Molly's brother Benjamin, who wears a bag on his head and has had trouble speaking since he returned from war ("The last one...You know, that noisy one with all the bullets and bombs and explosions. The War of the Thingummyjig or the Whatdyacallitor the Great Big Ginormous War Number 9. Maybe you missed it."). But even Benjamin is drawn into the excitement of Paul's quest.
Although parts of THE BOY WHO CLIMBED INTO THE MOON, particularly Benjamin's story, are almost achingly sad, Dunbar's brilliantly colored illustrations (created in pencil, watercolor and collage) perfectly convey the joy that walks hand-in-hand with the sadness. Glorious artwork brings Paul's journey --- and what he finds on the other side of the moon --- right into the pages of the book, several of which are given over entirely to marvelous, candy-colored, joyful two-page spreads.
David Almond's novels for older readers are known for their fanciful poignancy, for their mixture of beauty and sadness in equal measure. THE BOY WHO CLIMBED INTO THE MOON is likewise a bittersweet novel. Characters' experience of loss, longing and persistent sadness are countered by a truly extraordinary journey and, more importantly, by the gradual formation of a community that helps make Paul's journey possible and provides a safe, comforting place to belong upon his return.