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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Momo, a fantasy novel by German author Michael Ende, was originally published in 1973, six years before the author's most famous book, The Neverending Story (later adapted for the popular 1984 movie of the same name). Momo also is the name of Ende's central character, a parentless young girl who discovers the evil agenda of the time-stealing gray men. The nonhuman, cigar-smoking gray men chase and threaten Momo and force other children into hardship, but there's no real violence in the book. A couple of real men drink wine, and one says he drinks too much. Momo is given a doll called Barbiegirl. This 40th-anniversary edition of Momo includes stylized black-and-white illustrations by Marcel Dzama.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A parentless girl named MOMO lives in the ruins of an old amphitheater, where friends of all ages come from the city to visit her and benefit from her gifts as a gentle, patient listener and creative muse. With Momo's insight, adults remember to value their friendships above petty disputes, and the children become immersed in elaborate, inventive pretending. Then the gray men arrive in the city, and everything begins to change: Adults become preoccupied with saving time, to the point where they neglect their children and desert their friends. Momo uncovers the gray men's evil plan to steal people's time, but she and the other children can't seem to get through to the grown-ups. To save her friends, Momo will need the help of someone who has power over time.
Is it any good?
Michael Ende's early fantasy novel Momo has thrilling moments and a compelling plot, but it's also a charming and gentle story, espousing the old-fashioned values of friendship and imaginative play. It's wonderful the way this author is able to tell a scary, suspenseful story without any war or gore, and Momo is an adorably innocent but courageous heroine. Marcel Dzama's stylish black-and-white illustrations capture the essence of Ende's original characters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that Momo was first published in the 1970s. Describe which aspects of the book seem dated, if any, and what seems modern.
What other fantasy books have you read with kid heroes? How does this novel compare with The NeverEnding Story, by the same author?
Marcel Dzama's illustrations show several characters and plot points but no scenery. Draw your vision of what the amphitheater or the Nowhere House look like.
- Author: Michael Ende
- Illustrator: Marcel Dzama
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: McSweeney's Publishing
- Publication date: August 13, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 240
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.