Posted in 2014-2015 Club, Not Mock Newbery

West of the Moon, by Margi Preus

West of the MoonSummary:  In nineteenth-century Norway, fourteen-year-old Astri, whose aunt has sold her to a mean goatherder, dreams of joining her father in America.


Find it at WCPL


3 thoughts on “West of the Moon, by Margi Preus

  1. This book is about a girl called Astri who lives in Norway in the 1800s. Astri, whose mother died and father went to America, lives with her aunt and uncle and their children with her sister Greta. The aunt and uncle don’t really care about what happens to Astri and Greta, so they sell Astri to “the goatman,” who, as his name implies, raises goats. He’s cruel to Astri and the other girl who lives there, “Spinning Girl.” So Astri and Spinning Girl run away, meet up with Greta, and start their journey to America, all the while pursued by the goatman.
    This book was interesting in the fact that it combined old Norwegian folklore with the fictional story of Astri. A few of the stories were also important to the plot, and one even gave part of its name to the title of this book, West of the Moon. In the 1800s in Norway, superstition was still very much alive, and that was reflected in the writing of this book, which I think fit the story really well.
    I especially liked the characters in this book. They were relatable, and I saw the good and the bad in all of them. Even the goatman seemed nice at some points, but then of course he would be rude again, and you hated him once more.
    The ending of the book was another thing I enjoyed. Not every single little detail was resolved, and that made it realistic.
    All-in-all, I think this book is a contender for the Mock Newbery Award.

  2. West of the Moon, like Olivia said, is centered all around different Norwegian folklore. Throughout the story, the fairy tales seem to almost come to life to Astri, with the mysterious spinner girl, the treasure that seems almost like a trolls treasure, magic hairbrushes, devil encounters, spells, and transforming goat men. Of course, all of these things end up having rational explanations, but for most of the story are believed by the characters. This would have been hard to connect with if the book had been set anywhere else but because of the time period it was not hard to believe that the characters would believe these stories and superstitions. The folklore seemed almost a bigger part of the story than the rest of the plot and was the only thing that made this book stand out to me. The rest of the plot seemed to be lacking in needed depth. There are no plot twists, no hidden character traits, everything is almost what it seems. The characters you see are the characters you get. Astri is determined and bold, Greta is sweet, spinner girl is strange but kind, and the goatman is selfish and cruel. Nothing obvious changes in the characters and the development is minimal. If it wasn’t for the historical part of this story, the plot would have been very uninteresting with the usual two sister’s running for a dream destination with an evil man chasing them. Usually though, the chasing evil man doesn’t die in the middle of the book leaving absolutely no excitement at all. The theme was many different things, none of which stood out to me besides the story telling and historical part of it. I’ve read books where none of that is needed and the simplicity makes the book what it is, but even with that in mind, West of the Moon seems to be missing a few essential Newbery criteria and is not my personal choice for the winner. However, West of the Moon would be a very good book to read to learn more about the history of Norway and would be easy to finish because of it short length and mini adventures that add some excitement.

  3. West of the Moon is an enchanting, captivating book about a girl named Astri and her little sister Greta. Their mother died, and their father went to America, promising to help them come there too. I really liked this book because of the Norwegian folklore, as I am very interested in that, and in the beginning it seemed like a good book in the way that it involved lots of spells and enchantments. But like Krista said, the villain/chasing man doesn’t usually die right in the middle of the story, and I agree that it leaves a hole.
    It was a pretty easy book to read, because of the number of pages (197) and it does have small adventures along the way as not to bore the reader, but it was rather boring after the evil man died, because that had been the main idea up until that point, and also I feel it was too much focused on the folklore and didn’t have enough of Astri’s story.

    Recommended age: 8+
    Recommended grade level: 4th or 5th

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