Magic Moon deals with bullies in his world, and camp counselors do the same on Earth in this fourth installment of a series.
In the three previous outings—two fairy-tale–style picture books and a contemporary chapter book—Magic Moon helped people by granting certain requests and giving advice. Now his Creator has sent him to a new world, one inhabited by beings with multicolored fur—all except Farni, who’s plain white all over. He’s bullied for this, considered a freak, and has no friends. At first, he’s terrified when Magic Moon addresses him, but his curiosity and courage allow them to become acquainted. On Earth, 17-year-old Roni, who’s white, and her Polynesian friend Makani are counselors at a girls’ camp. (In the previous volume, Roni’s cousin Tara helped a family cross into this world from a magic portal when Magic Moon had to leave.) When the counselors discover caramel-skinned Kauna, 8, crying by herself, they figure out that she’s being bullied and vow to put a stop to it, with the approval of camp director Gail. In both worlds, practical demonstrations show the wrongness of prejudice based on outward appearances. For example, Magic Moon reveals how a prism separates white light into a rainbow of colors—but it’s all the same light. Inward qualities, like Farni’s bravery, are what matter. Moulton (Magic Moon: Two Worlds, 2017, etc.) has an intriguing idea in marrying the anti-bullying message with fantasy. The important role of adults in responding to such behavior is modeled here in both worlds; on Earth more realistically, and in Farni’s world, with broader humor (Brown Bear, for example, becomes Farni’s protector). At times, the message becomes overly earnest, so the slightly loony feel of Farni’s realm is a good break. But the flow between worlds is choppy due to short chapters, often only two or three pages. And Moulton’s writing can be awkward or repetitive; for example, the unnecessary quotation marks in “a small, furry, white ‘bear-like’ creature, with a smaller, brown ‘dog-like’ creature.”
Sometimes rough around the edges but an imaginative illustration of emotional intelligence.