Review of Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon Once in a Blue Moon
by Sharon G. Flake
Intermediate, Middle School    Knopf    336 pp.
7/23    9780593480984    $17.99
Library ed.  9780593480991    $20.99
e-book ed.  9780593481004    $10.99

In sparkling free verse, Flake delivers a rich and compassionate story of family love centered on forgiveness. Eleven-year-old James Henry and his twin sister, Hattie Mae, live with their grandmother in North Carolina, in the Jim Crow South. After a traumatic incident involving their mother and a beloved stray dog, James Henry becomes reclusive, never leaving the house or communicating with anyone except Grand and his sister. Shouldering tremendous guilt, James Henry, an astronomy buff, copes by pretending to fly to outer space with his steadfast companion and constant protector, Hattie Mae. But when she makes a new friend, his troubles become more complicated as now he has to compete for his twin’s attention. He knows the only solution to his problems is to confront his anxieties. His first steps out of the house turn into an adventurous odyssey under the luminous guidance of a mystical blue moon that Grand calls a “wishing moon.” “What you want for, wish for / or need / on that day is yours / according to her.” An evocative, immediate novel with compelling characters and a wonderfully well-paced plot.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Pauletta Brown Bracy
Pauletta Brown Bracy is professor of library science at North Carolina Central University. She is chair of the 2015-2017 Coretta Scott King Book Awards committee and serves on the 2017 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards committee.

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