Me and Mrs Moon
Me and Mrs Moon
Helen Bate, Herefordshire: Otter-Barry Books, hb, 978 1 9109 5994 7, 2019, £12.99, 48pp.
Graphic novel, fiction, 7+ years
Maisie and Dylan are two children of primary school age. Their neighbour Mrs Moon looks after them after school while both sets of parents are still at work. Both Maisie and Dylan adore Mrs Moon, because she is a competent carer and huge fun to be with. But matters begin to change.
At Christmas Mrs Moon gets a Christmas tree in the conventional manner. However, instead of decorating her room with Christmas ornaments, she uses pairs of socks. She leaves the cooker switched on while she is out of the house. She finally comes to believe that there is a little girl trapped inside her central heating radiator. All these drive the children to a very anxious state. If Mrs Moon, as seems inevitable, becomes incapable of looking after Maisie and Dylan, who else is there to turn to?
When Dylan hears the word ‘dementia’ he and Maisie connect it with Mrs Moon’s unusual behaviour. The novel poses the questions: what will happen to Mrs Moon and how can the children help her to come to terms with her condition?
This is a rare and potentially significant book. Its importance lies in the way the concept of dementia confronts these children. It is a hard enough matter for adults to confront, let alone children. The full-colour illustrations will doubtless help children who are not strong readers to come to grips with the issue. The narrative voice of this book is consistently childlike. Yet the text avoids falling into the trap of didacticism. This is not a lesson. The heart of this book is the relationship between Mrs Moon and the children. Her impairment, of course, affects this relationship. But it is not the heart of the matter.