Tag Archives: moon

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

One thing I really love about the Young Adult books that are being published at the moment is the amount of great science fiction stories.  Whether it’s the paranormal, like Andrew Hammond’s CRYPT series and Will Hill’s Department 19 or set in outer space, like Beth Revis’ Across the Universe and Philip Webb’s Six Days, these stories grab me and don’t let me go until the very last page.  Johan Harstad’s new book, 172 Hours on the Moon is one of these stories.

Set in 2019, it’s the story of 3 lucky teenagers who are chosen from millions of others around the world to be the first teenagers to travel to the moon.  A worldwide lottery is announced to find the 3 teenagers and it’s Mia from Norway, Antoine from France, and Midori from Japan who are chosen for this once in a lifetime experience.  In the first few chapters we find out who they are and what their life is like in their countries.  Each of them want to escape their lives and the moon mission gives them that chance.  They know that once they return from the moon, they will live very different lives.  Before they leave for their training, each of them experience some strange events that make them questions whether they should be going to the moon.  After their weeks of training they say goodbye to their families and leave for the moon.  You know that things are going to go wrong and sure enough, they do.  From the moment they land on the moon a series of strange events occur, and soon they find themselves fighting for their lives, millions of miles from home.

172 Hours on the Moon had me hooked from the blurb ‘Three of them will go on the trip of a lifetime.  Only one will come back.’  Johan’s story was originally published in his native Norwegian and Tara F. Chace has translated it well, capturing the fear and claustrophobia of the moon perfectly.  You know as soon as you start the story that everything is going to go horribly wrong, but you have to find out how and why.  The suspense keeps you reading and I found it really difficult to put the book down even to make a cup of tea.  The teenage characters were very real and I was really hoping they’d make it home (even though I just knew they wouldn’t).  I loved the way the author held back certain details about the true nature of the mission and revealed these slowly throughout the story.  One of the adult characters would reveal some details, but wouldn’t tell the teenagers the whole truth, which makes you keep reading to find out the truth.  Johan ends the story with a punch to your guts and leaves you catching your breath, marveling at the story you’ve just read.

4 out of 5 stars

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Picture Book Nook: Moon Cow by Kyle Mewburn

Kyle Mewburn deserves an award for being New Zealand’s hardest working children’s author this year.  He’s had so many books published in 2011, from picture books to junior fiction novels.  His Dinosaur Rescue series (with which he collaborates with the brilliant Donovan Bixley) is probably the best series for junior readers to come out of New Zealand in recent years.  Kyle’s latest book is a picture book about a cow that tries to make friends with the moon, called Moon Cow.

Milly the cow thinks that the moon must be lonely up there in the sky with no-one to talk to so she decides to try and make friends with it.  She stays up all night talking to the moon but “the moon didn’t say a word.”  All the other cows laugh at her, saying “Silly Milly Cow! Talking to the moon!”  Each night the moon gets brighter and closer as Milly talks, dances and juggles for the moon, but the moon stays silent. Will the moon ever talk to Milly and share its secrets with her?

Moon Cow is an absolutely stunning picture book.  It’s one of those picture books where the text and illustrations are perfectly matched.  Kyle’s story is gentle and touching, with just the right amount of humour.  As I was reading I thought that it had a similar feel to his award-winning Hill and HoleDeidre Copeland’s illustrations are what really make Moon Cow stand out for me.  The front cover really draws the reader in and makes you want to make friends with Milly.  I can just see children gushing over how cute Milly is, especially because of the way Deidre has drawn her eyes.  I love the way that Deidre’s illustrations glow on the page, especially the very last page with Milly and the moon by the lake.  The book’s designers should get some credit for the amazing job they have done on this book too.  My only negative is that a book of this quality should have been published in hardback.  Moon Cow will be a favourite with children and is sure to be a finalist in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards in 2012.

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Filed under authors, books, children, New Zealand, Picture Book Nook, picture books