Reena and her brother, Luke, move from the loud, bustling streets of New York City to rural Maine after their parents are both laid off from a failing newspaper. Once in Maine, Reena is surprised by how quickly she adapts to country life after her parents volunteer her to help Mrs. Falala, an older Italian woman, with her farm. Mrs. Falala is cranky and a bit eccentric with her cow, pig, parrot, snake, and seagulls. After finding a middle ground to work together, Luke teaches Mrs. Falala to draw, and Reena learns how to show Mrs. Falala’s prize and extremely ornery cow, Zora. Reena and Luke learn to love Maine (and they learn where their meat comes from).
Moo is appropriate for third to sixth grade readers. Although I question how Luke’s apparent disability is left unaddressed, I closed this book really loving the characters and plot. I wanted to dislike Moo because of the scattered format: narrative, free form, and verse in one sitting. However, Creech seems to successfully blend these writing styles together along with vivid, sensory-filled language. I felt like I was breathing in the Maine air. I do not usually like potentially sad animal stories, especially when this one was recommended with Pax, and I did skim ahead to make sure that all ended well for Zora. Small spoiler alert: Zora comes out just fine, but we do learn about the process of aging. I think that some spoilers are helpful to parents because all children handle these issues at their own pace.
Moo by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins, 2016)