I am so thrilled to be a part of the blog tour celebration of Moon Dog. This book took my heart by surprise and I had to read it in one sitting. At times sad and heart wrenching, there are also moments of pure joy to read. The tears, both happy and sad, were flowing in the time it took to finish the book and I cannot wait to share this one far and wide.
I am so happy to host a special blog post from Jane Elson below!
Friends are the family we choose for ourselves blog
There is something about the way the brain works that ensures that the characters you meet in the books you read from 8-13 remain your friends for the rest of your life. So it’s obviously vital that diverse characters from different family set-ups are represented in children’s books so that there is someone for every child to identify with.
When I was growing up I read so many books about close-knit families and I did not see myself reflected in those books. Later when I looked after two little girls who had lost their mother, I was so relieved to be able to give them Jaqueline Wilson’s books which they could identify with on many levels. Jaqueline Wilson definitely paved the way for me to write about the subjects that I wanted to write about. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr gave me the courage to write about my own childhood in my debut A Room Full ofChocolate. All my books are about a mismatch of people who form their own family unit. I think that is so special: a family formed from people that life has thrown together.
Marcus in Moon Dog is so lost. His mother left him when he was seven, his dad has been in bed for four months and three days with depression and Nana Sparrow, who runs a fruit and veg stall in Camden Market, is doing her best to keep the family together. To top it all off, Marcus has no friends as the Year Sevens at Heath Academy are frightened of him as he has ‘hands as big as dinner plates and the kind of feet the other kids trip over.’
That is until he meets Delilah; as lost as he is, as small as he is tall and she is feisty and brave. Marcus declares her Tremendous.
Delilah has lost her beloved father. Her grief leaves her breathless. Her dad has left her with an eclectic taste in music and a love of books. He was from Jamaica and used to wake her up in the school holidays and say, ‘Come the sun is shining’ and take her on an adventure.
Her grief-stricken mum, Florence, can’t cope and they keep moving from place to place – that is until Delilah meets Marcus and Florence befriends Nana Sparrow and they form a makeshift family.
It is Delilah and Marcus’s secret love for the giant Newfoundland Moon Dog, who they visit in the middle of the night, that bonds them. Moon Dog weaves all of the characters together in his own magical way.
The best thing about creating characters that readers can befriend is when you learn that it’s changed a life. I’ve been told on three separate occasions by boy readers that they identified with Willem in How To Fly With Broken Wingsso strongly that they were able to talk about their own Asperger’s, and how it made them feel, for the first time.
I also know that some of my readers have reached out for help to the Nacoa (National Association of Children of Alcoholics) helpline after reading Will You Catch Me? and befriending Nell.
Knowing that my books have given friendship to children makes all the hard work worthwhile.
As Delilah and Marcus from Moon Dog step into the world, my hope is that all the Delilahs and Marcuses out there will gain something from knowing them and that Moon Dog stays with them as they grow into adults.