Mad Dog Moonlight by Pauline Fisk
|Mad Dog Moonlight by Pauline Fisk|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Beautiful close to Fisk's Children of Plynlimon sequence - fans of David Almond will love it. Multi-layered and lyrical, it's ultimately about the search for belonging.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: February 2009|
Mad Dog Moonlight is just a small boy when the police find him wandering alone on the roads by the mountain of Plymlinon, clutching his baby brother - Elvis Preseli. He's quickly fostered by the kindly Lewises and his new life, apparently, requires a new name. Mad Dog becomes Ryan and Elvis becomes Eric. Aunty likes things to be proper. But Mad Dog doesn't feel as though anything at all is proper. He misses his parents and their caravan, but he can't remember them properly, and he certainly can't remember how he came to be alone with Elvis and without them. He has just one remnant from that time - his ffon. The stick is engraved on the top, but the writing and what it might mean is a mystery to poor Mad Dog.
He doesn't talk for a long time, but eventually he comes to understand that Aunty only wants the best for him and he tries very hard to fit in. Wanderlust takes him regularly though and he's ever drawn out of Aberystwyth and to the Rheinon river that runs through it. If he could only visit its source, perhaps the mystery of his life would finally become clear...
Mad Dog Moonlight is a stunningly beautiful close to Fisk's Children of Plynlimon sequence - fans of David Almond will love it. Rooted in Mad Dog's search for indentity and over-layered with plenty of emotional and supernatural themes, it's one for the fan of magic realism. My heart bled for this poor little boy, so lost without a history to root him. Mad Dog understands perfectly that his foster home is loving and secure, but without a backstory he's lost. The urge to wander takes him often, and he reacts to fairly every day problems in a way he wouldn't - if only he knew who he was.
The power of nature is never far away - the river and the mountains around Aberystwyth have age and experience but they are also capricious, teasing Mad Dog with what they know and he does not. Fisk herself says that rivers are both symbols of displacement and life-givers and here, she expresses that belief perfectly - the Rheinon, for Mad Dog, is both threat and promise. But what really counts, in the end, is the redeeming power of love, as offered by family and friends.
The book stands up perfectly well as a novel in its own right, but all junior fans of magic realism should check out Sabrina Fludde and The Red Judge first. All three come highly recommended by Bookbag.
My thanks to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.
You can read more book reviews or buy Mad Dog Moonlight by Pauline Fisk at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Mad Dog Moonlight by Pauline Fisk at Amazon.com.
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