The only thing certain in life is that it will change, and how we adjust to those changes will determine our satisfaction on the journey. Sharon Creech weaves this thematic thread into her new novel, Moo, a clever blend of the prose and poetry genres with a target audience of tweens.
Moo features twelve-year-old Reena and her brother Luke, “a seven-year-old complexity” (6) with a talent for drawing and an aversion to animals and to being touched. Inspired by both his imagination and what he sees, Luke has the eye and the demeanor of a creative soul. His sister, too, has an artist’s eye, but she uses it to observe and to report the details she sees.
In a moment of exasperation, while the family is caught in a traffic jam in the city, lamenting the trajectory their lives have taken, Reena’s mother suggests they should move, and when Father asks where, Reena—recalling previous conversations about Maine when her parents’ voices possessed “the glint of sea and sky” (8)—shouts, “Maine.” Reena was only hoping to see that glint again, not expecting her parents to take her seriously. But the family pulls up stakes and moves from the city—where horns honk, busses spew exhaust, people yell, and sirens wail—to a harbor town in Maine—where people hike and bike and fish and farm.
Initially, Reena doesn’t know how to be in Maine. Life confuses and disappoints her because she envisioned a different outcome, not one defined by a “prickly” lady from Italy who causes Luke to have a meltdown and accuses the children of disrespect. At Mrs. Falala’s house, a cat drops from the trees and gets chased by a hog; a parrot squawks and a snake slithers along the rain gutter while delicate flute melodies waft from the attic window.
Much like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird directs his children to read to Mrs. Dubose, Reena and Luke must muck out stalls and help Mrs. Falala with her ornery and stubborn Belted Galloway, Zora; her cat, China; her pig, Paulie; her parrot, Crockett; and her snake, Edna—who is a good mouser. Because they embrace this new reality without evading the challenging elements, Luke and Reena grow from their experiences, developing confidence and compassion. Even the “nutto, kookoo lady,” Mrs. Falala adjusts to her new reality, learning patience and how to draw. These little changes made by the characters add to the value of their lives, and they find happiness in some curious adjustments.
- Posted by Donna