cover image Moonflower


Kacen Callender. Scholastic, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-338-63659-8

National Book Award winner Callender (King and the Dragonflies) tells the emotionally harrowing story of Moon, a Black nonbinary 12-year-old who astral-projects into another realm each night, escaping a life threatened by prejudice in a world altered by an unnamed disease. Life among the living is unbearable for depressed Moon, who no longer speaks, feels unloved by their concerned but uncomprehending parent, and often wishes for death. Regularly visiting a spirit world comprising beings from many cultures and time periods, Moon is there tethered to life by a golden ankle chain that also prohibits visiting other realms. After accepting an impossible offer from the world’s Keeper, Moon undertakes a potentially disastrous mission that teaches what it is to experience love and to feel free. Interstitials develop the story of a child named Blue, born among the stars but raised on the ground. Burrowing to the marrow of what it means to be marginalized and depressed, dreamlike first-person text adroitly juxtaposes Moon’s feelings of unbelonging with an abundant possibility of love, both self-directed and external. A rousing central character, Moon is vulnerable in the face of pain, loving despite disappointment, and determined to make their own choices in a novel that emphasizes how “you’re so loved, even if you can’t see it.” Ages 8– 12. Agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt and Zacker Literary. (Sept.)