Monday, June 5, 2017

Middle grade fiction: Moo, by Sharon Creech


Title: Moo: a Novel
Author: Sharon Creech
Publisher: Joanna Cotler Books (HarperCollins), 2016. 278 pages
Source: Library

Publisher's Summary:

This uplifting tale reminds us that if we’re open to new experiences, life is full of surprises. Following one family’s momentous move from the city to rural Maine, an unexpected bond develops between twelve-year-old Reena and one very ornery cow.

When Reena, her little brother, Luke, and their parents first move to Maine, Reena doesn’t know what to expect. She’s ready for beaches, blueberries, and all the lobster she can eat. Instead, her parents “volunteer” Reena and Luke to work for an eccentric neighbor named Mrs. Falala, who has a pig named Paulie, a cat named China, a snake named Edna—and that stubborn cow, Zora.

This heartwarming story, told in a blend of poetry and prose, reveals the bonds that emerge when we let others into our lives.

My Review:  I hadn't actually expected this to be in verse. I grabbed it from the new book shelf because the blurb looked interesting, and Sharon Creech is a pretty safe bet for an interesting read. I didn't even look at the interior, so I was taken a bit by surprise. The publisher's blurb says it's a mix of poetry and prose, but I think it's all poetry, of various sorts. Some poetic "lines" run toward paragraph length, but never really feel like ordinary prose. Other parts are what I learned to call "concrete poetry" way back when: where the shape of the words and lay-out on the page are part of the meaning. 

The poetry, and the story, works well. Despite the spare style, I had no trouble feeling in the middle of the story, and getting to know the characters quite well. At times, the book feels like a love-song to small-town Maine (a feeling I can understand, after only a couple of visits to the area), but the plot doesn't get lost. And the language is lovely. One thing about writing in verse: an author has to weigh each word, and be sure they are all the right ones. Creech, to no one's surprise, does this well.

My Recommendation:
For children or adults. The publisher markets it as a "tween novel," which pretty well hits my "middle grade" category of upper elementary, or ages 9-12. But the beauty of the language makes it a pleasure for a reader of any age. I'm thinking that a reluctant reader would enjoy the speed with which the pages turn, since the verse form keeps the words-per-page count low. And for the rest of us...definitely reminds me of One Morning in Maine (remember that one?), totally in a good way.

FTC Disclosure: I checked Moo out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  


  1. Interesting. I confess that poetry doesn't attract me, although since I don't mind tales in them (like Hiawatha or the Ancient Mariner) maybe I should give this a go.

    1. I'll admit that I don't read much poetry these days either. The book doesn't really read like poetry, except in the sense that the prose (ha! See?) is spare and maybe words are chosen with greater care. But the book reads like a story, and not much is missing. So go ahead and take a look :)

      Oh, and for poetry that is fun for those who just want to frolic in the sounds and maybe a story, try Robert Service. Or get me around a campfire with a drink and I'll recite "The Cremation of Sam MacGee" for you :)


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