Review Blog

Jul 05 2012

Under a silver moon by Anne Fine

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Ill. by Lotte Klaver. Walker Books, 2012. ISBN 9781 4063 1924 8.
(Ages: 7+) Highly recommended. Early chapter book. Fable. A beautifully told story of two boys who grow up together in a palace, but one is the prince of the household and the other the gardener's son. Haroun, Lord of the Rolling Deserts, Mirror of Stars and Heir to all Gifts and Wonders, is cossetted and pampered until one day when he goes into the garden, he spies Akil the gardener's son and begins to play with him. Together they laugh and play but when the Sultan and Sultana find their son dirty, on his hands and knees in the garden, they take him away, admonishing the gardener. But Haroun becomes bored without his friend, so bored that he eats all day, until he can hardly walk. The family and the doctors are at a loss as to what to do.
In the garden Akil has a plan and comes to the palace dressed in a black robe. He tells the Sultan that buried in the garden is a magic key and that if the prince digs the garden and finds the key he will be saved. Eventually the prince realises that there is no key, but his old friend has ensured that through exercise and outdoor living, he has become fitter and healthier than he was before and so is saved from his life of idleness and eating.
A delightful fable for our times, Anne Fine has written a handbook for getting children out of doors and exercising to ensure their long term fitness and health. The illustrations are magnificent, showing the increasing size of the prince as he lies about eating, then slimming down through exercise. The billowing robes of the Sultan and Sultana as well as the handmaidens are a pleasure to look at, as is the growing garden created by the boys. This book would make a wonderful read a loud and discussion starter as well as a great book just to sit and read.
Fran Knight

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