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What the Moon Said

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  568 ratings  ·  129 reviews
It's the beginning of the Great Depression and nine-year-old Esther's father has lost his job. A move from Chicago to a farm in Wisconsin seems like a good idea, and in many ways it's the beginning of the happiest time in Esther's life. But it's also a challenging time, and the challenges are made all the harder by Ma's superstitions, which have such a powerful impact on t ...more
Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published February 20th 2014 by Putnam/Penguin
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  568 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ANYONE
Although I originally read this exquisite and heartwarming novel in 2014, I loved Gail Rosengren's What the Moon Said so much, I adored it so much that I simply have not been able to pen and post a for and to me adequate review. Since the author is also a GR friend, I recently realised that I should really post a review, although I still think that any review I do post, will not even remotely come close to describing how much this book was and still is a pleasure and a joy to read (I have reread ...more
What the Moon Said

‘What the Moon Said’ is one of the best books I have read in a long time yet it is for eight to twelve year olds.
I found it a beautiful read set in the time of the great depression in America. The main character is little Esther and the themes in the book are centered on this child. Sometimes she is the narrator when for example she describes her bewilderment at some of the painful issues between her Mother and herself. Her Father is American and her Mother is Russian and is
Liza Wiemer
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
An outstanding MG novel that I'm sure will become a favorite of students and teachers alike. I was completely captivated by this historical fiction novel, which takes place during the Depression. Esther is a young girl struggling to get her mom's approval and love. Her mom is very superstitious and these superstitions guide Esther's enter family, determining the good luck and bad luck they'll have. At times, it's frustrating, hurtful, and confusing for Esther, especially when she is forbidden to ...more
J & J
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
What The Moon Said is to me, a story about the real meaning of love.
All through their challenges during the great recession, Esther tried over and over to make her mother show her that she loves her. She wanted her mother to hug her and tell her she loves her. In the end, after many hardships and tears and painful moments she realized things are never white or black.
I lost count of all the many moments I saw similarities between Esther's life and my own childhood. Some of them are too personal t
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mg-fiction
A ring around the moon is an omen of bad things to come. Ten-year-old Esther doesn’t know whether or not she believes her Ma’s superstitions, but the moon’s warning seems to come true when her father loses his job in Chicago. The year is 1930 and the nation is in the grip of the Great Depression. City jobs are impossible to find. Esther and her family move to a ramshackle farm in Wisconsin to eke a living out of the land. There is no electricity or plumbing, but Esther is excited about the move. ...more
Melissa Landers
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2k14
So bittersweet! I want to give Esther a, not just one hug...ALL THE HUGS! Knowing that Esther's book is based on the real experiences of author's mother made the story events hit so much closer. And I love the ending. Without giving away too much, it's hopeful but realistic. I'd recommend this book to fans of the "Little House on the Prairie" series. ...more
Amanda Coppedge
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg, read-in-2013
What a perfect historical fiction middle-grade novel--it is right on the nose for about age 8-10, the perfect next step for children who have outgrown books like Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House series. This will greatly appeal to fans of the Little House in the Big Woods series. I love the chapter heading art by Jonathan Bean ("Building Our House"). Lends itself to so many educational extension activities--sure to become a great favorite of teachers and homeschooling families. ...more
Sandy Brehl
This story combines the best of a classic vignette-based tale with elements seldom found in books for this age. Set in an early year of the depression, it spans life in a Chicago apartment and a rural SE Wisconsin farm community. Esther deals with some self-inflicted angst about not being loved as much as her siblings, but also faces the power and fears conveyed by her mother's strict adherence to old world superstitions.
Throughout it all she takes tentative steps toward maturity, gaining persp
Jen Downey
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Esther is a sensitive endearing heroine in this beautiful piece of historical fiction. Not just an exploration of a time and place, but of a way of perceiving the world. Once ensconced with Esther, through good times and bad, I didn't want to leave her side.
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Completely adorable. If you are a fan of the Little House books, you MUST read Rosengren's debut. You'll love Esther's adventures in depression-era Wisconsin! ...more
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Gayle Rosengren's debut novel was immediately received to widespread acclaim and repeated mention of viability for the 2015 Newbery awards, I noticed the stir. Not every first-time novelist is greeted with the enthusiasm that met What the Moon Said. Nothing appeared especially groundbreaking or original about the basic story: A girl in 1930s Chicago has her life shaken up by the onset of the Great Depression and moves with her family to start anew on a Wisconsin farm, just about as vastly d ...more
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Original review found at

3.5 stars

I received a copy of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

This book is definitely geared towards the middle grade demographic. Although I have not read a lot of stories for this age group I thought this was a really cute read. It takes place during the depression so it has the historical fiction aspect that I love in my reads. It gives the opportunity to educate young readers about the ti
Catherine Linka
If I had to choose one word to describe this book it would be "kind."

Esther wants so much for her mother to tell her she loves her, but Ma is not the demonstrative type. And Esther's journey is to learn that love is expressed in many ways.

Great for a snuggle in bed read aloud, as well as an accurate portrait of the struggles of an immigrant family during the Depression.

Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book from Goodreads.................It was actually better than I thought it would be, It was a very interesting story, It was absolutely worth reading, I would actually like to read more books by this author :)
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved all the historical details of life in Chicago and life on a Wisconsin farm from the point of view of 11-year-old Esther. Favorite quote: "Home was more than a place. Home was family." ...more
Almost ten years old and small for her age, Esther longs for her mother's love, but her mother remains cool and harsh towards Esther. Ma seems to love Esther's older sisters and younger brother, but not Esther. It's older sister Julia who provides love and sometimes money for the younger children to have a happy childhood. Life in Chicago in 1930 isn't easy so when Pa loses his job, the family moves to a farm in Wisconsin. Esther is excited to finally have animals and eager to do as many chores ...more
I really enjoyed this book! I was considering this book for my tween book club, and after reading it, I think it would be a excellent choice.

Esther Vogels is a young girl living in Chicago in the year 1930, during the Great Depression. Esther and her older sister, Violet, spend their free time enjoying going to the movies and playing like normal children. They realize so many people are suffering during this time, but their father has a good job, and everything seems fine. Their mother, wisely p
It's 1930 in Chicago, Esther has been living here with her Ma, Pa, and sisters and brothers. When the Great Depression hits, everyone is losing their jobs, Pa included. The Vogel family decide to move to a farm in Wisconsin thinking they can make a fresh start leaving two of the daughters behind. Country life turns out to be disappointing as the farm turns out to be more challenging then they thought, it has an outhouse, there's no ice box or electricity and tending to the animals and crops is h ...more
Cindy Hudson
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Esther’s Ma pays attention to a lot of signs to keep her family safe. Frequent occurrences, like seeing a ring around the moon or a spider before breakfast, have to be analyzed to determine whether they will bring good luck or bad. And when it comes to Ma, Esther feels like she always needs good luck.

The family lives in Chicago at the start of the Great Depression, but when Pa loses his job, they all move to a farm in Wisconsin. The place is run-down, has no electricity or indoor plumbing, and r
Well, I finished it and I am still trying to figure out why I found the book a bit more problematic than I expected. One of my Goodreads friends described it as being like Anne of Green Gables, only about the Depression era. I guess one of the things that troubles me about this - and perhaps my respect for Anne of Green Gables colored my perception of this book - was that Anne was continually striving to be honest and good. She had trouble measuring up, but she was usually completely honest abou ...more
Mary Sanchez
Esther Vogel lives in Chicago during the early part of the Great Depression with her Russian immigrant parents and sisters. Life is good with movie serials, ice cream shops, and her friend, Shirley, but Esther wishes her mother was more affectionate like Shirley's mother, instead of being so superstitious about everything. However, her mother's beliefs about the ring around the moon bringing bad luck do come true and Esther's father loses his job. Pa and Ma decide use the money they have saved f ...more
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esther loves living in Chicago. It's the Depression but her hard working immigrant parents have provided a warm and safe home for their family of seven. Pa works hard at Zeigler's Laundry to provide for the family and Ma guides them with firm no nonsense wisdom and a large dose of the superstitions she learned in her homeland of Russia. But Pa looses his job and the family makes the hard decision to move to a farm in Wisconsin where they think life will be more sure. Soon our cheerful and bright ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult
What the Moon Said (which I have read twice) is an absolutely terrific Middle Grade historical fiction book, with one of the best main characters, vibrant & lovable Esther, in recent Middle Grade literature. And so skillfully written, with just the right voice for someone of Esther's age, a perfect structure (flows seamlessly from scene to scene, chapter to chapter), and truly beautiful use of language. A great mother-daughter relationship book. Also, because it is written so well and at an age- ...more
Apr 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, juvenile-nf
How do we tell the difference between superstition and accepting life as it is? Esther struggles with this question as we all do. We all want to step over the crack or throw salt over our shoulder now and then, "just to be sure" and then we have something besides life itself or ourselves to blame when things go wrong.

The contrast between employment opportunities during the Depression and today would be an interesting talking point with youngsters. I wonder if children of unemployed parents would
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Gayle Rosengren has drawn from her family's history during the Great Depression to write this sweet, tender, realistic story about a girl's struggle with her relationship with her mother and dealing with change in circumstances. The characters are well-drawn and, as a reader, I loved this family. [Warning: it's a two-hanky read.] The immigrant mother's superstitions were fascinating in how they affected decisions and created dilemmas for this family. The language and content make this story acce ...more
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in the early years of the Great Depression is hard for Esther. Her parents, both immigrants, decide to buy a farm in Wisconsin and leave Chicago behind. Esther makes the best of the move, accepting their new farm, out-dated house, and hard work. She also tries to understand her mother and does everything she can to earn her mother's affection. The story traces the ups and downs of Esther's determination to help her family, make friends, and do her best in school.

Recommended for grade
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I so loved this book. Every time when something bad happened in the story, I would think, "Oh, I wish the author wouldn't turn the story this way." But then the author wrote the lesson to be learned or the good that came the family's way, I would then think, "I loved the way this story turned out to be." The story was well-thought out. The story of this family made you appreciate what you had, but of course, the main character, Esther, learned the same thing. ...more
Pop Bop
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
An All-of-a-Kind Family is A Long Way From Chicago in a Little House on the Prairie

That title is a mashup of the Sydney Taylor books, the Richard Peck books, and of course Laura Ingalls Wilder. And that's fine because that's great company for this particular book.

Here, though, we add a superstitious and seemingly strict and cold Russian Mom, and a confused daughter who just wants some affection and a hug. We find out why Mom is distant with our heroine Esther, and we have an upbeat, if implausi
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Illinois author Gayle Rosengren's first book is a historical fiction story about the depression in the 1930's. Esther is a ten year old with three older sisters and one younger brother. She is happy with her life in Chicago because her father has a good job and she enjoys her school. When her father loses his job, his parents are forced to make a decision that will change Esther's world. They buy a farm in Wisconsin. Esther feels like a pioneer girl because they have outside bathrooms, no runnin ...more
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Mock Newbery 2022: August Read - What the Moon Said 19 186 Sep 18, 2014 07:41PM  

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