Beyond Words Publishing / 32 pages / July 1999
As always, this book was road-tested on my six-year-old niece and three-and-a-half-year-old nephew.
Some of us will seize any chance to share our love of science fiction and fantasy with children. With the almost unlimited potential of books, what better way to take young people to another place, to introduce them to unfamiliar races and cultures, and to open the doors to worlds inside fertile minds, than with a book about a child from an impossible locale? A person who stepped off the moon to join us on Earth and become one of “us.”
Moon Boy longs to know more about the planet below. The Moon, though he will miss his son, sends him off to learn about Earth. Remember, he stresses, I will always be above to shine on you, so shine back. Ah! If only all parents released their children so gracefully.
Earth, however, is not quite ready for a Moon Boy. Did I mention that his head is very round and glowing? Or that his arms and legs are like those “snakes” that spring out of a phony peanut can? Or — and this may well be the most shocking — he sports a door in his torso, a door from which almost anything may appear? Given all these differences, I suppose it is a miracle the child is not blown away on sight. Instead, the townspeople are determined to avoid Moon Boy and to keep their own children far away from this monstrosity.
It takes the curiosity of one child to learn the truth about the stranger and convince everyone to accept him. A not-so-radical resolution, but the impact of Moon Boy is not in this simple lesson alone.
Yes, it is partially Moon Boy’s appearance that repulses the adults. It is the door in his chest that sends them screaming back to the safety of their homes. Ed Bread travels from house to house, questioning his neighbours about their fears of the alien boy. At house after house, he learns that each family has its own, personal fears. At the obsessively clean house, they fear dust bunnies springing forth from the door. At the overheated house, they are convinced icy winter is waiting inside the moon boy.
Ed Bread realizes that no one really knows what is behind the door. At last, he ventures to the boy’s crescent-shaped house to uncover the truth. His courage is rewarded with a shower of all the best things he can imagine. And he brings that wonderful discovery to the townspeople, who take Moon Boy to their hearts.
Is that what prevents us from accepting people who are unlike us? In every stranger is it the thing we fear most? Outsiders are our phobias on legs. Or tentacles. Or pseudopods. Or whatever.
So, like most quality children’s literature, there is a lesson and there is a reward. The moral is smoothly worked into the entertaining story. Vivid illustrations and over-the-top behaviour make Moon Boy a pleasure for children and adults. And a touch of science fiction never hurt anyone.