Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Moon Over High Street

Babbitt, Natalie. The Moon Over High Street.
In the 1960s, orphaned Joe is living with his grandmother. She is determined to keep him in contact with the rest of his meager family, so intends to go visit "Aunt" Myra for the summer, but falls and breaks her hip. Joe goes alone, and finds himself quite at home in Midville. He likes Myra and is comfortable with her, and especially likes the girl next door, Beatrice, with whom he explores the town. After Beatrice's dog runs off, they run into the rich Mr. Boulderwall at his home on High Street, and he is so impressed with Joe that he eventually decides to adopt him so that he can leave his business (which makes the swervit, a device indispensable on cars) to someone who will run it the way he does. Joe, however, would rather be a scientist studying the moon and not a businessman. Should he choose his pleasant but challenging life with his family, or the life of private schools and financial security? That is the choice... the moon, or High Street.
Strengths: This is a pleasant tale about family and opportunity by a well-regarded author. It is also set in Ohio.
Weaknesses: Very little happens in this book, and I fear that middle school students will not connect with Joe, since many of them would probably go for the easy life offered by Mr. Boulderwall. This struck me as a book teachers would like more than students.

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