Blair Moon by Ashleigh Mounser
Blair Moon - How to be cooler than the moon (Blair Moon) is Australian poetry, film and fiction writer Ashleigh Mounser's first children's book. It is a recent publication of the Ford Street Publishing Company of Abbotsford which is a small, discerning company that publishes only fifteen to twenty titles/year for children and young adults. Ford Street Publishing focuses on books that allow children to read literary works that explore significant social issues of our time in a fresh, multi-layered and entertaining manner. Thus any book published by Ford Street merits some attention. Available on the publisher's site are teacher's notes for Blair Moon, clearly linked to the year 5 and 6 ACARA Literacy strand, consisting of comprehension and discussion questions for each chapter.
The reader sees the world from the first person narrative perspective of the titular chararacter Blair Moon. Blair marches to her own tune. Young readers may be bemused by her and may even find her arrogance and inability to read social cues and the emotions of others annoying. She may be dismissed, as she is by most of the children at school, as a know all, weirdo. At some point, children may pick that she is "on the spectrum" although that is not clearly spelt out in the book. Delicate classroom discussions about difference and social inclusion may be necessary at teachers' discretion or it may be best left alone for children to enjoy Blair alone - with no interpretation or intervention. Blair Moon is like another Pippi Longstocking - bold, adventurous, single-minded and impervious to adult discipline.
Brought up in a nursing home and home schooled, Blair Moon, when she hits school, speaks like a ninety year old. Her vocabulary is amazing! A glossary is included at the end. She has a single ambition and that is to be school president (followed by more lofty ambitions later...) Blair gets into trouble and exasperates her teachers as she attempts to socialise and impress others into voting her in as school president. She learns, amongst other things, not to start rumours and not to take credit for things others do. She learns what it is to be a friend and how it feels to lose a friend. She tries to be cool - which is definitely not her. She becomes more self reflective..."I am thinking about everything I have learned and how I am growing as a person, and becoming a more complete version of myself..."
Some initial whole class sharing and guidance may be needed for students to settle to identifying and taking the ride with Blair Moon but when they do, they will find her quirky adventures by turn amusing and unsettling. She is a "special" girl.
Blair Moon - How to be cooler than the moon is a thought and discussion-provoking book that will help children understand, enjoy, include and embrace others who think and act differently in the general, mainstream school and classroom and in life.
Themes: Friendship (inter-generational and peer), Autism spectrum disorder, Fitting in, Belonging.