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Key, Watt. Alabama moon.

KEY, Watt. Alabama moon. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. 294p. c2006.0-374-30184-0. $17.00. JS*

Moon Blake, the ten-year-old protagonist of this novel, is like an idiot savant. He's always lived in the wilderness with his antigovernment, few-logs-short-of-a-campfire father. His contact with civilization consists of annual trips down from the mountain to trade animal skins for supplies in the village. All their other needs are met by taking advantage of nature's offerings. When the father has an accident he is unwilling to seek medical care, and dies from infection. Moon must bury him and find a way to Alaska where, according to the father, he'll find other people just like them. Moon has no sense of the modern world, geography, or social relationships. His chances of making it to Alaska from Alabama unimpeded are zero. Instead, he runs afoul of a corrupt cop, a boys' home, and a bully, but he makes friends with another orphan. Moon teaches the friend to live in the wilderness, makes friends with the bully, and hides out in a junkyard courtesy of archetypal rednecks with hearts of gold. He even gets to know a rich lawyer.

This book is reminiscent of Huck Finn, Hatchet or Far North, perhaps even The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, but it's also completely original. The voice is intriguing, believable in its innocence as Moon looks at the world with fresh eyes. It's also packed with arcane nature lore. Moon learns that the world his father retreated from is black and white and every shade of gray. There are no easy answers to how to survive in such a world, but, for certain, Moon will find a way. Myrna Marler, Assoc. Prof. of English, BYU, Provo, UT

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

*--The asterisk highlights exceptional books.
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Author:Marler, Myrna
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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