- The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon
Paul is a quiet boy, neither particularly brave nor especially smart, but he's full of strange ideas. When he decides one day that he'd like to touch the sky, he meets [End Page 368] a slew of people with similarly hare-brained notions as he makes his way up his apartment building to the twenty-ninth floor. There's Clara and her dog Clarence, a poodle who thinks he can fly; Harry, a rather self-important jogger; and Mabel, who would prefer to be called Molly, and who introduces Paul to her even more eccentric brother, Benjamin, a man with a penchant for wearing paper bags over his head. The siblings not only help Paul to touch the sky, they convince him to use a ladder to test a theory that the moon is really just a hole in the sky, a supposition that turns out to be true when Paul manages to climb right into that celestial sphere. As in his recent My Dad's a Birdman (BCCB 7/08), Almond attempts to blend whimsy with realism, but the balance is off here, and the cleverness of the prose simply can't make up for the story's lack of substance. Paul's foray into the moon is by far the most interesting part of the tale, but it's also the briefest, coming only after a parade of sometimes frustratingly quirky characters, many of whom add very little to Paul's journey. Dunbar's pencil, watercolor, and collage illustrations reflect a more authentic playfulness, and the two spreads showing the various aerial navigators and contraptions floating around in the moon add an explosion of movement and joy to what is an otherwise rather stagnant plot. Nevertheless, young readers who enjoyed Birdman's sense of adventure and peculiar characters may still find satisfaction in this new outing.