In this origin story, Harry Moon is up to his eyeballs in magic. In the small town of Sleepy Hollow where every day is Halloween night, his archenemy, Titus Kligore, has eyes on winning the annual Scary Talent Show. Harry’s sister, Honey Moon, says Harry needs better tricks so he finds a new and better magic wand. Still, Harry has a tough job ahead of him if he is going to steal the crown. He takes a chance on a magical rabbit who introduces him to the deep magic. Harry decides the best way forward is to “do no evil ” while the battle to defeat Titus goes epic. (goodreads.com)
Whoa, buddy, are there some serious issues with this book. Like deeply troubling issues.
So to start, I’m not sure who the target audience is. On Goodreads it’s listed under children’s but Harry’s in 8th grade and is 13 years old. I would probably peg this as being for someone in the 7/8/9 age range and while it’s not uncommon for kids to read up the age of the protag and style of writing don’t seem to fit.
Combatting bullying is the main theme of this book. Harry’s the one on the receiving end of said bullying. The thing is, the bullying in this book is a bit outdated. That’s not to say bullying isn’t still a physical problem, but it’s definitely moved more into the realm of the psychological and insidious, taking place online and outside of school where the bullied can’t escape. HARRY MOON doesn’t even touch on that. The bullying Harry received is taunting and then Titus, the bully, holds him down and shears his head with a pair of sheep shears.
So that’s assault and the police would be involved if that were to happen. That’s not something that you treat with kindness and you have a touchy-feely conversation with your kid over a sundae about. That’s press charges territory. And electronics are a thing in this world. The kids have cell phones and laptops and everything but cyber bullying doesn’t exist, apparently.
That was my first thought when I read that scene but I’m like okay. This book is obviously not going there. It has a message to tell and it’s going to tell it. Fine. So I kept reading and it was going along okay. I was really afraid there was going to be some godly moralizing going on based on the marketing material I had for it, but that’s actually kept to a minimum. I just thought it’s kind of weird that magic and religion to that extent are co-existing in the same book. As an outsider they seem very antithetical to me. But whatever.
And then we get to Sarah, Harry’s former babysitter and assistant for his magic act. Initially I didn’t think anything about their relationship. They’re only three years apart and I imagine she just stopped babysitting for him and she’s just kind of humoring him in a big sister sort of way with being his assistant and being encouraging. Of course Harry’s crushing on her hardcore but for most of the time she’s very adamant that they’ll always have that age difference and nothing will come of his crush.
Until she kisses him. On the lips. To which I went
Why? Because she’s 16 and drives and is in high school and Harry’s 13. Of course he’s over the moon about this and she actually shows some intent there and I’m just like:
Because I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in most states. This should not be in a children’s book as being okay. At all. Because it’s pedophilia. Thing is you can age them up and it would be less of an issue (if they’re in their 20s). But he’s THIRTEEN. She’s SIXTEEN. This is what Lifetime movies are made of. No. This is not sweet and awww and how cute. This is fucking gross.
And then you have the effectively morally superior Harry talking about do no evil and only using his magic for good. And there’s this paragraph at the end where some of his friends got in trouble and he’s looking at one friend in particular standing with his very angry dad and he thinks about all the welts that the kid comes to school with and how he lies about them to cover them up. And Harry just kind of turns his back on it and thinks about how thankful he is that his parents don’t beat him and basically sucks for his friend but THAT’S not the kind of evil Harry’s going to be fighting.
This book does not fit in the current market. At all. Its message is antiquated at best, downright ignorant at worst. There are elements added effectively to add detail that just end up raising eyebrows. I mean yeah, show some “diversity” in characters in how not everyone has a great home life but dropping little tidbits about how one of Harry’s friends gets the shit beaten out of him by his dad and have Harry, who’s on a crusade against evil, just ignore that, is not the way to go about adding detail to flesh out characters.
And then the “love interest.”
No. That’s horrifying. People go to jail for shit like that.
Update your thinking, guy. This book is indicative of the author not understanding what kids these days are going through or how to address them. This is not a well-represented book on bullying for multiple reasons. It’s so out of touch and so whimsical with a serious issue while outright ignoring other very heinous problems that I just can’t take it seriously as any kind of lesson book. It teaches nothing that a kid can use that would be pertinent to their lives.
Missed the mark on this one. Big time.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.