Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Moorchild

Author: Eloise McGraw
Number of Pages: 256
Reading Level: 6th grade and up
Reading Time: 4 days

Born half-Folk and half-human, Moql was raised in the Mound on the moor with the rest of the Moorfolk. But soon, the Folk began to see that Moql was different. She couldn't do all of the things that Folk could do.

Thinking her to be a danger to their society, the Folk 'changed' Moql, stealing a human baby and putting her in its place. Because time runs different in the Mound, Moql is a baby again as soon as she's set in the cradle. And, soon, she forgets all about the Moorfolk.

Moql, now Saaski, as her human parents name her) has never been a normal child. The other children are cruel to her, and the elders in the town gossip about her, calling her a 'changeling.' In fact, the only place Saaski seems to fit in is on the moor, playing her father's bagpipes.

When bad things start happening around the town, the people blame it on Saaski. They get meaner and bolder. Saaski and her parents are terrified at what they will do...

This book was surprisingly good. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I loved it. The voice of the book pulls you into Scottish culture. I even found myself reading in a Scottish accent. You get such a beautiful picture of Scotland - its landscapes, its people, its folklore. Every day, I'd listen to the soundtracks of Brave and The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep because I was so enthralled with the Scottish influence in the book.

Besides the wonderfully rich culture, though, the story was also really good. There is hardly a person in the world who has never felt that they were different from everyone else, and not known how to "fix it." The reader easily relates to Saaski, and the story is so full of magic and superstition that it pulls you in hard.

I'm actually really sad that I never read this as a child - I think I would've loved it even more then.

A Note to Parents:
This is an excellent children's book, especially for kids who really like fantasy. So much of preteen/older child fantasy these days is laden with sappy romance and creepy, devilish creatures. This book is clever, informative, and truly magical. It would be a great introduction to learning about Scotland, and a fantastic conversation opener about superstition or inclusion. The only possibly negative aspects: in the Mound, babies are taken away from their mothers and the mother has no particular feeling toward the child (although, personally, I thought this was fascinating). Saaski's parents weren't married (I don't think the Folk marry at all...), and her human dad obviously wasn't there for her. There are numerous mentions of drinking and drunkenness.

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