A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This far-fetched adventure story seeks to entertain more than to educate, but readers may learn a bit of geography as the main characters travel from the flatlands of Winnipeg to the boroughs of New York City.
Stick by your family, no matter who or what tries to come between you. Watch out for those less fortunate than you. Don't make assumptions about people based on their professions or positions in life.
Positive Role Models
When 10-year-old Marie Claire, more commonly called the Rat, decides to hop a freight train to New York, camp out in Central Park, or befriend hustlers in Times Square, all based on her mystical premonitions, her big brother, Bob, has no choice but to follow her, whether or not he sees any sense in what she's doing. Though Bob knows from experience that the Rat usually lands on her feet, her choices would be questionable for the average kid.
Violence & Scariness
Before the events of Unhooking the Moon, a pedophile murders the Rat's best friend; the Rat's dad explains that pedophiles are "monsters that hurt children." The Rat senses that several of the threatening characters she and Bob encounter are pedophiles, but they manage to escape before confirming her premonitions. Rat is taken by a group of grown-ups who pretend to be caretakers of orphans but in reality are pedophiles and murderers. In one scene, several people shoot guns; one person is shot, and another is knifed. When a friend is mugged, a fistfight erupts. Rat and Bob's dad is beaten up in a bar fight.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There are frequent references to pedophiles, but the term is never explicitly defined. Bob talks about his crush on a pretty teacher seven years his senior.
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Many occurrences of "goddamn." Rat "bleeps" instead of using stronger language.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An alcoholic who's usually "soused," the Rat and Bob's dad still manages to be a loving and protective father before he dies. The uncle they're searching for is reputed to be a big-time drug dealer; there are references to junkies and other drug users but no direct interactions with them.
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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.
Is It Any Good?
Although this fast-paced story isn't meant to be realistic, the idea of two modern-day kids looking for someone and not first consulting the Internet is hard to swallow. 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 varied action and its cast of unusual characters will appeal to many readers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.