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A Cool Moonlight
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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What's the story?
Lila, who has a skin condition that prevents her from ever being in sunlight or even certain kinds of artificial light, tells about the two months leading up to her ninth birthday. It's a strange, lonely, moonlit world she inhabits. She can only go out after sunset, and the windows of her house are all darkly tinted. She has a loving older sister, Monk, a neighbor, David, who reads comics with her, and her best friends, Alyssa and Elizabeth, who may or may not be real.
"i feel like i've been eight for practically a hundred years. i wonder if i'm the oldest eight-year-old in the world. if i stay eight any longer, i will have gray hair when i turn nine ..."
Lila believes that the object she and her friends are collecting for her sun bag will enable her to go out in the day, beginning on her ninth birthday. But Alyssa warns her that when she's nine she'll "know better than to believe folks."
Is it any good?
This lyrical meditation on the world of night moves slowly, softly, and subtly. Many children will find it dull. But for some it will open their eyes to a part of their own world they may not have noticed or thought about.
Setting is everything here: Aside from Lila, none of the characters is more than a shadow, and there is little action or plot, no great drama or emotional climax. Like the nighttime world, everything is toned down, quieter, rendered in faded blues and grays. Nothing stands out too much in the night -- even the capital letters are gone. Lila's disease, though explained clearly, is mere pretext for the cool, dim setting, and a catalyst for changes that are universal: growing up, sorting fantasy from reality, making and keeping friends, finding one's place in the world.