Title: The Trouble with Half a Moon
Author: Danette Vigilante
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Concepts: poverty, scarcity, jobs, public housing
Review: Thirteen-year-old Dellie could not seem to shake the guilt that she had caused her younger brother's death last year. On top of this guilt, she also shouldered the burden of having to stay at home whenever school was not in session because her grieving mom feared that she would lose her other child. So when little Corey and his mom moved into the first floor of their housing project building, Dellie quickly noticed that he was hungry all the time, and it felt good to help him out with extra meals and snacks whenever she could.
Dellie's parents had moved to the housing project after they got married; her father's job as a forklift driver and her mother's job as a clothing factory worker did not pay enough to allow them a bigger place. They said the project was nicer back then, mostly occupied by other working poor households, but recent times had brought more trouble, including drugs and violence. Corey's mom fell into this trap, and Corey suffered as a result. Dellie witnessed the increasing abuse and longed to protect him, not knowing how she could get involved in a potentially dangerous situation while trying to build up her own mother's trust.
This coming-of-age story shines the spotlight on life in a building project filled with people of varying socioeconomic backgrounds and current needs. The book touches on some difficult topics, particularly child abuse and grief over losing a family member, but does so in a sensitive way that is appropriate for middle-grade readers. It can prompt useful discussions with young learners about challenges faced by the working poor in urban households and how children meet these challenges at home and at school.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children