Full Cicada Moon

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Full Cicada Moon Book Poster Image
Girl beats stereotypes in powerful free-verse novel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Several events in American history are mentioned, such as the Apollo 11 mission, Pearl Harbor and the Japanese internment camps, the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and more. A pronunciation guide and glossary at the back help readers learn the meaning of Japanese words and phrases.

Positive Messages

Mimi's dad raises her to be kind, respectful, and persistent, which affects the way she handles racism and gender inequality. Her parents teach her to have the courage to love herself instead of letting fear and loneliness determine her self-worth. Kids shouldn't let their race or gender prevent them from pursuing their interests.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mimi is smart, passionate, and courageous. She never lets people belittle her dream of becoming an astronaut. Her courage to fight for gender equality inspires her entire eighth grade class to engage in civil disobedience. Mimi's parents are incredibly supportive and help shape her identity, self-esteem, and self-confidence. Mimi appreciates that Timothy doesn't ask her racist questions and that he's willing to teach her how to use power tools if Mimi's dad will teach him how to cook. Mimi's science teacher, Mrs. Stanton, fosters Mimi's interest in science and signs her up for a scholarship. 

Violence

Two boys get into a fistfight at a middle school dance.

Sex

Mimi and Stacey talk about having crushes on boys.

Language

Stacey talks about wanting to "cuss people out," and the girls refer to someone as a "jerk." Mimi teaches two of her classmates the Japanese word "baka," which means "silly" or "foolish."

Consumerism

Popular '60s magazines and products mentioned, including Time, Life, Coke, and Life Savers; the Temptations, Dick Clark, Walter Cronkite; TV shows Bewitched and Hogan's Heroes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Full Cicada Moon is a free-verse novel about 12-year-old Mimi Yoshiko Oliver, a half-African-American, half-Japanese girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut when she's older. Set in 1969, the book references important events in American history: the lunar landing, the civil rights movement, Pearl Harbor, the Vietnam War, and so on. Many characters encourage Mimi to pursue her dreams despite the racism and gender inequality she experiences in her new community and school. The only violence is two boys fighting at a middle school dance.

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What's the story?

Set in 1969, FULL CICADA MOON tells the story of 12-year-old Mimi Yoshiko Oliver, a half-African-American, half-Japanese aspiring astronaut whose family moves from Berkeley, California, to a predominately white small town in Vermont. Judged by the community because of her skin color and teased by her classmates because of her interest in science competitions and shop class, Mimi never loses sight of her dreams no matter how many times others try to discourage her. In a world that's constantly trying to tell her whom she should be, Mimi's refusal to conform not only helps her overcome racial and gender stereotypes but also lets others know how she wants to be defined.

Is it any good?

Marilyn Hilton's thought-provoking free-verse novel is an inspiring coming-of-age story for middle schoolers. She delicately weaves American history into the story, and the deliberate placement of words on the page beautifully captures Mimi's emotions and her view of the world. Being the new kid is always difficult -- especially when you're judged by your race and gender -- but Mimi learns to respectfully push the boundaries by uniting her classmates through an act of civil disobedience. Her courage and determination can empower kids, especially girls, to embrace the sciences and their own dreams.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difference between our era and the 1960s. How does Full Cicada Moon mirror what's happening in the world today?

  • Why do you think the author chose to write this story in free-verse poetry? Was it easier or harder for you read in this form? How would the book have been different if it had been written in prose?

  • Check out these websites, apps, games, books, and TV shows to spark kids' interest in STEM topics and careers.

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Themes & Topics

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For kids who love poetry and middle school stories

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