STARRED REVIEW
November 02, 2020

A Fort on the Moon

By Maggie Pouncey, illustrated by Larry Day

Two brothers, memorably named Fox and Dodge, are planning their fifth trip to the moon in their spacecraft, the White Dolphin. Built using common household “odds and ends,” they keep the craft hidden behind the chimney on the roof of their house. Their goal for this trip is to build a fort on the moon’s surface; they prep at home with models made from wooden blocks.

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Two brothers, memorably named Fox and Dodge, are planning their fifth trip to the moon in their spacecraft, the White Dolphin. Built using common household “odds and ends,” they keep the craft hidden behind the chimney on the roof of their house. Their goal for this trip is to build a fort on the moon’s surface, and they prep for this mission at home with models made from wooden blocks.

Told from the perspective of the younger brother, Dodge, A Fort on the Moon is filled with authentic—never patronizing—details that capture how children perceive the world. After the boys tell their mother they plan to build a fort on the moon, they observe that she “gets that look grown-ups get when they think you’re being cute.” Author Maggie Pouncey’s language is also remarkably childlike: The boys’ tools for shipbuilding, for instance, include “two diggers” and “two whackers.” Pouncey’s use of exclamation marks throughout the story is particularly effective in communicating the boys’ wonder—“We load our materials into the ship, things Mama called junk!”—and her occasional use of rich figurative language delights. Walking on the moon, Dodge reflects, is like "stirring the batter of the world’s biggest cake.”

Illustrator Larry Day brings the boys’ adventure to the page via relaxed watercolor and gouache illustrations dominated by a vivid, sapphire blue. His depiction of the White Dolphin is entertaining, constructed as it is with old umbrellas, tires, watering cans, cardboard boxes and the like. The boys, snug in snowsuits, sit in old car seats as they navigate the spacecraft. Expect lots of laughs when sharing this book aloud with young readers.

Though the brothers experience frustration in building the fort (moon dust gets on everything, and they run low on tape), the thrill of adventure dominates the story. Children will delight at the boys’ lunar antics and may even be touched by the brotherly bonding that occurs when Dodge realizes that, if it weren’t for his brother, he would have given up.

A Fort on the Moon marries art and story for a combination that’s truly out of this world.

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A Fort on the Moon

A Fort on the Moon

By Maggie Pouncey, illustrated by Larry Day
Neal Porter
ISBN 9780823446575

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