**spoiler alert** The Moorchild is definitely a charming little book. It is well-written with interesting characters and a language style that I reall...more**spoiler alert** The Moorchild is definitely a charming little book. It is well-written with interesting characters and a language style that I really enjoyed, though I can see it being difficult for a younger reader. The mythology was fairly standard, but could have been developed and explored further, as could the culture. Also, after rereading The Moorchild after a few years, I was surprised to see how different the moral structure is than I remembered from when I was younger.
The dedication is to all the children who have ever felt different. Now, I was bullied quite badly as a child because of my personality and appearance, and my parents are from different countries, so I very much relate to Saaski, the story's main character, who is caught not only between two cultures but really between two worlds, and sympathized with the cruelty she underwent at the hands of the other village children. However, I highly disagree with how McGraw handles this situation as an author. "Different" is portrayed to equal "Wrong." Saaski is taunted, blamed, physically attacked, and even threatened to be killed throughout the story. I realize that being different can cause people to hate you, it's life and kids shouldn't be sheltered from it, but how it's dealt with bothers me. Saaski not only rarely stands up for herself, but is portrayed as unable to do so; she is constantly hiding and avoiding other children, and in the end runs away. Even her parents, who do their best to love her and treat her as a normal child, very clearly never fully accept her. Is this the message we want to send children who feel different? That no one -- not even their parents -- will ever love them or even accept them unless they, too are outcast? That these other outcasts are the only people they can trust? That the solution to bullying is running away? Likewise, do we want to portray bullies of "different" children as having no consequences, not even from their parents? And what about Bruman, who is alcoholic, beats Tam, and is still portrayed in a positive light? Other reviewers have noted the "happy ending" of the book, but that ending comes of Saaski essentially giving up on people and making things in the village as if she had never existed. Her tormentors get what they want, essentially being rewarded for their cruelty to the young child.
Be careful with this book, especially if you're going to give it to a child who is "different." Read it first, be aware and talk about how Saaski and the villagers handle situations and how they could have acted differently. It's worth a read because it's interesting, compelling and has a great language style, but don't take the dedication lightly.(less)