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Listen to the Moon
by Michael Morpurgo
Twelve-year-old Merry will never forget the day a German U-boat shot down the Lusitania. That was the day her life took a tragic turn as most of the passengers on the ship died, including Merry’s mother. In an amazing turn of events, Merry is saved, only to be abandoned on the uninhabited St. Helen’s Island.
When fisherman Jim Wheatcroft and his son find Merry, she is injured, ill, and unable to talk or remember who she is. Wheatcroft’s family tries to help Merry, who they call Lucy, heal from her physical and emotional wounds. However, the family had no idea how cruel their community would become when they believed Lucy was German.
Listen to the Moon chronicles the true story of a young girl who left for England to be with her injured father and ended up on a small island during World War II. It is a story of bravery, friendship, and kindness.
The story is amazing; however, the slow pace and topic of war may make it difficult for younger readers to get through the story. Although the violence is nothing shocking, the story shows what happens to those who go to war; it also highlights the injuries and hopelessness of a boy who comes back from the war. The reader will see the death of the people on the Lusitania, but they will also see the kindness of German soldiers as they help the young girl survive.
- Alfie and a boy get into a fight at school. “Alfie was on his feet, grabbing Zeb and pinning him against the wall, shouting in his face, nose to nose.”
- The school teacher hits students on the knuckles with the edge of the ruler when they misbehave. The teacher also “grabs [Lucy] by the arm and jerked her to her feet . . . In his fury he took her by the shoulders now, and shook her.”
- The passenger ship Lusitania is bombed by a German U-boat and sinks. The sinking of the ship is described as well as the lifeboats leaving people to die. “The ocean was littered with wreckage as far as the eye could see, and among it were hundreds of people, swimming for their lives, many of them losing their lives as I watched.”
- A crowd of school children closes in around Alfie. Then Lucy jumps on one of the boys. Lucy was, “hanging on to him, her forehead pressed into his back . . . Alfie was knocked over from behind to the ground. Then punching and kicking began. As he curled himself into a ball, he saw Lucy sitting astride Zeb and pummeling him, but then the others pulled her off and began kicking her to . . .”
- A German sailor talks about sinking ships. He talks about the men who die. “You can hear them shout, hear them scream. For a sailor to kill a sailor is like killing a brother.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- The doctor smokes a pike and washes his fish pie down with a glass of beer.
- As the people are dying, Lucy describes the dying people, who cries were, “begging for help from God, from anyone, help that I knew neither God nor I could give.”
- During a sermon, a pastor talks about the German enemy. “He lost no opportunity to remind everyone of the barbaric atrocities committed by the German enemy, the bayoneting of little children in brave little Belgium, and the shameful torpedoing of the Lusitania. . . Always remember we are fighting for God and our country, against the forces of evil. Did not the Angel appear to our troops at Mons? Is not God on our side, on the side of freedom and right?”
- Jim, the man who took Lucy in, tells his wife, “. . . there is a God in heaven, which you know I have my doubts about. Then that God of yours will look after Lucy, won’t he, even if it turns out she speaks German? God helps those who help themselves, don’t he?”
- When Lucy thinks about her father, “I thank God I did not know much then of the dangers he was in, nor of the horrors of that dreadful war.”