cover image What the Moon Said

What the Moon Said

Gayle Rosengren, illus. by Jonathan Bean. Putnam, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-399-16352-4

A ring around the moon, a dream about a wedding, and rain at the outset of a journey are all causes for alarm in the mind of Esther Vogel’s Russian immigrant mother. Her superstitions, combined with a lack of physical affection, make (nearly) 10-year-old Esther wonder if Ma loves her. In 1930, Esther’s life changes dramatically when her family moves from Chicago to a Wisconsin farm after her father loses his job. The house is dilapidated, with no electricity and an outhouse instead of a bathroom. Optimis-tically determined to see the situation as an “adventure,” Esther is thrilled to have horses, cows, and (best of all) a dog, and she finds beauty in the quiet landscape and excels in school. Yet what she really wants—approval, a steady best friend, and relief from poverty—are elusive. Rosengren, in her first novel, offers an intimate account of a family’s adjustment to country life and the hardships of the Great Depression. It’s easy to root for Esther, who makes the most of each day, wants little, and gives much. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)