Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Margaret and the Moth Tree by Kari and Brit Trogen

First, let's just get this out of the way: This book does not have a good cover. It may very well have some artistic merits I am unaware of, but speaking as a librarian and purchaser of children's books, I must say that it looks like something photoshopped off the internet for a self-published book without an editor.

Now that we've dealt with that, I have to say that while I didn't feel justified in purchasing this book because of said cover, I really wanted to read it. The description sounded tantalizing, "Lemony Snicket meets Charlotte's Web" and I do like orphan stories (although I'm not a fan of Snicket).

Margaret, orphaned at a young age and suffering mild neglect from two elderly relatives in turn, finds herself at an orphanage. There Miss Switch tyrannizes over the luckless orphans and Margaret finds herself ostracized by all. But her amazing ability to listen, honed in her early years, returns and she becomes friends with a tree of moths who eventually help her turn the tables on Miss Switch and set all the orphans free forever.

I enjoyed reading this story, and it's certainly a quick read at less than 100 pages, something I would love to see more of in middle grade fiction. However, it's really a mish-mash of a variety of classic stories and tropes and it's not surprising to learn that the authors "decided to write a story together while on a road trip" as it definitely has that "and THEN" feel of a serial bedtime story.

There are Snicketish asides from the author, Matilda-like pranks on a nasty grown-up, who incidentally bears a strong resemblance in many ways to the evil orphanage matron of Annie, and a final farewell with the moths that clearly bears tribute to E. B. White.

Verdict: I like the length and there's definitely a promising imagination at work here, as well as fairly decent writing, but this was very derivative and there were one too many lectures on bullies and inner beauty. I'd be interested to see if the authors develop their writing skills and try again though.

ISBN: 9781554538232; Published April 2012 by Kids Can Press; Egalley copy provided by the publisher through Netgalley


Ms. Yingling said...

WHY do publishers not pay attention to covers? Peachtree has some good books with breathtakingly awful covers. They are so important and well worth spending a little more money on. Sigh. Why do WE not rule the world?

Jennifer said...

I know! We would be soooo good at it!