Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Friday, July 4, 2014

Plot Summary:
In the land named "The Motherland," Standish is stuck in stuck in Zone 7, which lies in a despicable part of Britain zoned off for "the Impure." For Standish and his family, anyone who defied the Motherland, or were different from everyone else, they were imprisoned in Zone 7. As for Standish, his two different colored eyes and inability to read, or write, is a reason he is impure. Most children regard school as a fun and safe place to learn. However, for Standish, there isn't a day that goes by where he isn't physically abused by his own teacher, Mr. Gunnell, and bullied by Hand Fielder. Before his parents disappeared, a year ago, Standish and his grandfather, Harry, have coped the best  they can with a dilapidated home and meager rations. When Hector Rush, and his family, moved into Standish's old home, Gramps was suspicious, but, after meeting them, the Treadwell and the Rush families came together to prove to the Motherland that they will not destroy them. After meeting Hector, Standish instantly bonded with him because it was Hector's presence that allowed him to get a full night's rest, which he hasn't done since his parents' disappearance. The more they got to know each other, the more protective Hector became of Standish. In fact, the created their own imaginary world called Planet Juniper where Standish has been escaping to since the disappearance of the Rush family.  On June 15, after enduring another physical assault from Mr. Gunnell, Standish is called into the Headmaster's office to find a Greenfly waiting for him. Apparently, three days earlier, there was an incident that not only involved Standish and Hector, but they are the key to finding the Moon Man who crash landed in the Motherland. Why are the men in the leather jackets so desperate to find the Moon Man? More importantly, if they find the Moon Man, what will happen to Standish and his grandfather?

Critical Evaluation:
I will say this was quite an eerie read, especially as readers witness the progression of the illustrations throughout the story. Not only is it very reminiscent of Hitler and the Nazi party, it's told from the mind of a young man whose vivid imagination and storytelling paint a very unnerving picture. Standish is suffering from a learning disability called Dyslexia, which, boy current standards, is easily managed with care and expertise. Unfortunately, back in the 1950s, it was undiscovered so young people like Standish were often outcasts and called "stupid" because they could read, or write, like everyone else. However, in the Motherland, if you have any sort of disability (mental and physical), or stand out from the rest of the population, you were considered impure and were relocated to one of the zones just like Standish. In these zones, the only way people could succeed was to spy and "rat" out their neighbors who go against the Motherland. Although people were snooping and spying on their neighbors, they were actually naive enough to think they would be safe because, at the end of the day, they were still living in Zone 7. The world that Standish is growing up in is terrifying because people don't really know if they will be here one day and gone another. As for the Moon Man, which we don't find out until half way through the book, is part of an elaborate scheme to trick the world into thinking that the Motherland will be the first country to walk the moon; therefore, making them the most powerful nation in the world. This book is such a re-telling of the events that took place in Nazi Germany that all readers can do is hope for the best. In the end, Standish finally gets the "Happily Ever After" he has been longing for and readers will be astonished by the power this story packs into little less than 300 pages.

Information about the Author:
According to her website:
I was born in Birmingham, near the Cadbury’s chocolate factory, and I grew up in Gray’s Inn, central London, in Raymond Buildings. My family (my parents, my younger brother and I) lived there because both my parents were lawyers. When I was around age five they separated and later divorced.
I was badly bullied at school because I was different from other children. I had trouble tying my shoes, and coordinating my clothes, and I had no idea what C-A-T spelled once the teacher took away the picture. My brain was said to be a sieve rather than a sponge – I was the child who lost the information rather than retained it.
I stayed in kindergarten until I was really too old to be there and finally was asked to leave the school. This became a pattern that repeated itself throughout my learning years.

At eleven I was told I was word-blind. This was before anyone mentioned the un-sayable, un-teachable, un-spellable word dyslexia, which, hey-ho, even to this day I can’t spell!
I eventually ended up in a school for maladjusted children because there was no other school that would take me. I suppose this was the equivalent of what now would be a school for kids with ASBOs. I had been classified as “unteachable” but at the age of fourteen, when everyone had given up hope, I learned to read.
The first book I read was “Wuthering Heights” and after that no one could stop me. My mother, bless her cotton socks, said that if I got five O-levels I could go to art school, and much to my teachers’ chagrin, I did just that. At art school I shot from the bottom to the top like a little rocket.
I left Central St. Martin’s Art School with a First Class Honours degree and then went to Newcastle University Theatre, where I worked as a theatre designer. One of the first shows I worked on was The Good Woman of Szechuan by Bertolt Brecht which transferred to the Royal Court Theatre.
After that I spent 15 years in the theatre, but gave up working as a set designer because I found my dyslexia to be a problem when drawing up technical plans for the sets. Instead I concentrated on costumes.
Ironically, when I went into writing, where I assumed my dyslexia would be a true disability, it turned out to be the start of something amazing. I was more than blessed to meet an editor, Judith Elliot, who was to play an important part in my journey to being a writer.
I strongly believe that dyslexia is like a Rubik’s Cube: it takes time to work out how to deal with it but once you do, it can be the most wonderful gift.
The problem with dyslexia for many young people – and I can identify with this – is that their confidence is so damaged by the negativity of their teachers and their peers that it takes a very strong character to come out of the educational system smiling.
Teen Issues, Teen Dystopian Thriller,

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Maggot Moon:
Awards & Recognition:
  • 2013 Michael L. Printz Honor Winner


This novel will just blow you away...Such a beautiful read...this certainly has the potential to become a modern classic.
—The Bookseller (U.K.)

Startlingly original, sophisticated and moving, MAGGOT MOON is out of this world.
—The Sunday Times (U.K)

Dazzling, chilling, breathtaking. A perfect book.
—Meg Rosoff

Gardner does a masterful job of portraying Standish’s dyslexia through the linguistic swerves of his narration, and although the ending is pure heartbreak, she leaves readers with a hopeful message about the power of one boy to stand up to evil
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

This is alt-history second; first, it is an eerie, commanding drama.
—Booklist (starred review)

Standish’s tale has the terse, energetic tension of poetry; his phrases and sentences roll out with irony, tenderness, horror, or love, but always vividly...Most appealing of all, however, is Standish Treadwell himself: tender, incisive, brave, and determined, he takes a stand and treads well.
—The Horn Book (starred review)

Sally Gardner tells a story that is rich in drama and ideas.

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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