What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Unhooking the Moon is about two Canadian kids on their own in New York City, in search of an uncle they've never met. The kids hop a freight train, take rides from strangers, lie to authorities, hustle people for money, and camp out in Central Park, among other inadvisable activities. They have several narrow escapes from danger, including encounters with pedophiles. The book's tall-tale flavor and the Rat's mystical premonitions and prophetic dreams let readers recognize Unhooking the Moon as an adventure story that, though grounded in the real world, isn't necessarily supposed to be realistic. However, the ending may disturb those who expect the story to be ultimately lighthearted.
What's the story?
When their father dies at the beginning of UNHOOKING THE MOON, siblings Bob and Marie Claire (aka the Rat) decide to journey on their own from Winnipeg, Canada, to New York City in search of their dad's estranged brother. Besides a penchant for crazy schemes and an addiction to mochas, 10-year-old Rat has a talent for befriending colorful characters, including a cigar smuggler, a street hustler, and a famous rapper, all of whom try to help her. As Bob and the Rat search the New York boroughs for their uncle (who's rumored to be the city's biggest drug dealer), they encounter many dangers, but the Rat always manages to extract them. When a corrupt children's home takes the Rat, it's up to Bob to unite her unusual group of friends and rescue her.
Is it any good?
Although Unhooking the Moon isn't meant to be a realistic story, the idea of two modern-day kids looking for someone and not first consulting the Internet is hard to swallow, especially when it's a person who'd be instantly identifiable online. Rat's endless wacky capers and her way of assessing people as either angels or pedophiles will charm some readers, but others will find her almost magical ability to slip in and out of crazy situations too unbelievable and ultimately tiresome. Big brother Bob's readiness to believe her premonitions and follow her into situations he doesn't understand is often baffling. Still, the story's fast-paced, varied action and its cast of unusual characters will appeal to many readers.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why the author chose not to have Bob and the Rat use the public library and the Internet to find their uncle. Does this lack of realism hurt the story or make it better because it allows them to have more adventures?
Can you relate to the rapper Iceman's complaints about the burdens of fame? Do you think they're realistic? Would you want to be famous? What would be good and bad about it?
Have you ever done what a friend or relative suggested, even though it didn't make sense to you, as Bob often does? How did the situation turn out for you?