The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon

Common Sense Media says

Fantastical tale will spark kids' imagination and curiosity.





What parents need to know

Educational value

This book will introduce kids to British words like "lorry" ("truck"), "mum", "lift" ("elevator"), "pence," and some British spellings ("centre"). The book also is filled with fun words like "fizzy," "flappy," and "doomy" and may inspire kids to play with their words. Parents can also use the book to talk about magical realism; to dive more deeply into the book's messages, use the questions in our "Families Can Talk About" section.

Positive messages

This fantastical, illogical story is rich with worthwhile messages:  imagination is powerful, anything is possible, if you work together you can accomplish much, war is bad, and creativity and curiosity are necessary.

Positive role models

All of the characters, while goofy and possibly crazy, are kind and supportive. Paul is unassuming, thoughtful, and inclusive. Mabel/Molly is encouraging and spirited. Benjamin is depressed but ready to be happy. Paul's parents are present and caring. Fortuna is enigmatic yet vulnerable.

Not applicable

The illustrations of Molly/Mabel depict very tight clothes, large breasts, and garish makeup.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a fantastical story, with very little logic and much magic realism. Readers wiling to suspend their belief in reality in order to enjoy the wacky tale will find worthwhile messages about imagination, possibilities, teamwork, creativity, curiosity, and more. Characters are kind and supportive, though many of them waver between sanity and insanity. One character is a war veteran, and, as such, he is depressed, gets the jitters, and sweats (though "when his brain can be unscrambled, he has good ideas").

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What's the story?

Paul is a bored boy living in a basement apartment. He doesn't much like school, and school doesn't much like him. He believes that the moon is just a hole in the sky and decides to test out his theory. As he climbs up the floors of his apartment buidling, he meets a series of wacky yet friendly strangers who believe in him and his mission. Along with Paul's caring parents, this odd assortment of people help Paul reach his goal of climbing to the moon. And then he learns that he's not alone up there...

Is it any good?


THE BOY WHO CLIMBED INTO THE MOON is a fast-paced, zany, and nonsensical fable of a boy who dreamed a dream. Young readers and literal thinkers may have trouble rolling with the arbitrary plot and dialogue, but those who can tolerate and enjoy unrealistic adventures will find this story delightful. The language is playful, the characters warm, and the goal outrageous.

And while the book is unreal, its messages aren't: Readers will see that imagination is necesary, taking risks is good, community is stronger than isolation, war is absurd, anything is possible, love makes things possible, creativity helps you reach your goal, tolerance is essential, and acceptance changes lives. Ultimately this is a  whimsical, peculiar book with heart.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the relationship between boredom and imagination. How did Paul come up with the idea about the moon being a hole in the sky? What do you do when you're bored?

  • One line from the story is "Don't worry, a boy like this can't fail -- not with ideas like this and love like yours."  What would you do if you weren't afraid of failing? 

  • Could Paul have made it to the moon without support? How was he able to trust strangers to help him?

  • Do you think Paul was a failure in school? Do you think he was an "empty-headed buffoon," as one teacher called him? Why do you think Paul didn't like school?

Book details

Author:David Almond
Illustrator:Polly Dunbar
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:April 13, 2010
Number of pages:128
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12

This review of The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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