The last place thirteen-year-old Clare wants to be is on an airplane with her dad heading to a village in Malawi, Africa for two months. She’s still grieving over her mother’s unexpected death nearly a year ago, and she’s angry that her dad seems to be moving on with his life. She’s determined not to like anything about Africa once she gets there.
But the more Clare gets to know the people in the village and learn about their lives, the more she wants to know. And in her friend, Memory, Clare may have finally found someone who can understand her grief.
Laugh With the Moon by Shana Burg is a compelling story of a girl who is trying to find her way forward after a tragic loss. Clare feels as though she is betraying her mother if she’s happy. But Africa is such a change from what she knows that she is forced to think differently.
In Malawi, she finds a people who face loss regularly from illnesses that are easily preventable. She wonders about the differences between her school at home with its abundance of supplies and the meager materials she works with at school in Malawi. She wants to find ways to help, but she also knows that just because she has enough money to fix a problem temporarily, it’s not enough to make a long-term impact.
What Clare learns about honoring loss while celebrating life is sure to generate lots of discussion in mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 10 to 14. There’s also a lot to explore about schools in Africa, especially if a club is motivated to take on a service project after reading the book. There’s an excellent educator’s guide on Burg’s website (shanaburg.com/educators) where club members can find discussion topics as well as Internet resources, such as a map of Malawi and information about Save the Children International and the World Health Organization. I highly recommend Laugh with the Moon.
Check in tomorrow when I interview author Shana Burg and get her thoughts on writing for children about major social issues.
The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion in this review.