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*Northward to the Moon* by Polly Horvath- young readers fantasy book review
Also by Polly Horvath:

My 100 Adventures
Northward to the Moon
by Polly Horvath
Ages 10-14 256 pages Schwartz & Wade February 2010 Hardcover    

Embracing a spirit of adventure, incorporating eloquent metaphors and descriptions, and a knack for original contemporary storytelling, Polly Horvath’s Northward to the Moon is a thoughtful sequel to her 2008 children’s novel My One Hundred Adventures.

In this book, twelve-year-old Jane’s mother has married Ned, a possible father of at least one of her four children, and moved to Canada where Ned is teaching French. Fired for not actually knowing the language, Ned receives a puzzling phone call from an old friend in British Columbia. Always ready to tackle a new adventure, Ned takes the family northward to find the friend and discovers that his brother, John, has left with his friend a large amount of cash to give to Ned.

The family’s adventures continue as they try to find John, who was working as a magician in Las Vegas. Although unsuccessful in finding John, Ned does track down his mother on a Nevada ranch purchased with Ned’s money. Eventually also reunited with his sisters, family becomes the focal point of the story – melding Jane’s family with Ned’s, caring for the needs of his mother, and healing past wounds of neglect and separation.

Jane, her mother, younger sister and two younger brothers support Ned as he works through his familial relationships. Her mother, Felicity, always supportive and comforting, and brothers move with the flow of their ever-changing life. Jane and her sister, Maya, however, each react differently to the disruption in their lives, lacking a strong sense of home in their travels.

Telling the tale from Jane’s point of view, the author portrays a genuine teenage perspective on family relationships, first love and a need for self-understanding. Northward to the Moon addresses a number of themes centering on realities and perceptions of family, home, respect and changing relationships. The book’s simple conclusion begs many questions, foretelling a sequel and leaving the reader wanting to reread parts for hints of how and why another major change is happening to Jane’s family.

Horvath’s beautifully descriptive language authentically capture’s a young girl’s thoughts and feelings as she contemplates each element of her life as an adventure:
“There is nothing like a sky full of stars to make you lose track of your thoughts. For instance, at first, you realize that all those stars, all those pinpricks of light, are far away from each other but repeated all over the sky thousands of time. They are each glowing hugely alone but not, connected by the deep dark of the universe, part of a whole picture of what we see, the night sky. The same and all different.”
Most appealing to rather thoughtful, perhaps quiet girls, Northward to the Moon is a story which lends itself to many text-to-self connections and an all-inclusive view on what it means to be part of an unconventional yet loving family.

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  Kristine Wildner/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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