Malawi is not Massachusetts – Clare can’t believe that her father has uprooted her from junior high school to come to Africa for a season. After her mother died, they were both so sad for so long… he thinks the change of scenery will do them good, but Clare isn’t sure she can adjust to any more changes!
Mosquito netting around her narrow bed, no cellphone service out here in the bush, riding a borrowed bicycle down a bumpy dirt road to Mzanga Full Primary School where she’s the only white student, wearing a hand-me-down school uniform, but is fully welcomed with smiles…
Soon Clare becomes accustomed to helping pack up her classroom’s books to take to the school’s only lockable room, to placing cans beneath its worst leaks during the rains, to understanding almost enough about her classmates to keep from embarrassing herself too much.
Her sketchbook fills with drawings of her friends who have chosen English names like Innocent and Memory, of jungle animals, and of Fred the hen who arrived as a mystery gift on their doorstep. She finally can see her mother’s face and hear her voice in her dreams. And her father the doctor tries to help all the children who flood into the free hospital, day and night.
An emergency during an outing to Lake Malombe leaves the school friends stranded, with time running out. How can they get everyone to safety? Why can’t an ambulance get there? Why is everything so difficult in Malawi? How will Clare ever feel whole in her heart without her mother’s gentle love?
From teaching tools made from termite-mound mud to the charming style of English spoken in Mkumba, readers will be delighted to explore Clare’s new world as she learns to Laugh With the Moon and embrace life after loss.
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA – blogging young adult books beyond the bestsellers at http://BooksYALove.blogspot.com
Clare Silver is angry. Angry that her beloved mother passed away, angry that her family is broken, angry that her father up and moved the two of them all the way to Africa. In Malawi, her father finds satisfaction working as a doctor while Clare resists her fate attending school with villagers and living without the American comforts she has grown so used to in her young life. Her new home and school feel completely alien to Clare, though she does find lots of new material to draw in her sketch book. After befriending some schoolmates, particularly orphaned African girl Memory, she slowly opens herself up to new experiences and learns to appreciate all that she has. Soon, Clare is able to find satisfaction teaching English to the lower grades at her school, raising a wayward chicken named Fred, and painting murals for the local hospital patients. When a horrible illness strikes, Clare’s newfound happiness is threatened and she has to find a way to carry on. Even without her mother to guide her, Clare just might find that she is braver and stronger than she knows. Laugh With the Moon is a highly realistic, emotional, and satisfying read that will teach older readers about a culture they may not be familiar with. 256 pages. Recommended by Molly Crumbley, Librarian, Maryland, USA. http://heyboobooks.tumblr.com