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- author Jackie French

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Review: Blair Moon: How To Be Cooler Than The Moon

They say surprises are the spice of life. I say incongruous pairings are equally as stimulating. Blair Moon is both. This debut middle grade novel from Aussie author, Ashleigh Mounser, is a curious beast as is Blair Moon herself – a moniker even her mother uses in lieu of just ‘Blair’.

At first the reader may feel slightly off kilter by the use of so much ‘adult’ discourse and the sophisticated lexicon of Blair Moon wondering if the author has chosen the right voice for this unique 11-year-old. I assure you she has! 

It is the voice of reason and logic, entrenched in a solid appreciation for common sense, varnished with a sheen of unwillingness to accept the ridiculous points of views of others. It’s the voice of someone with vast lived experiences, befitting someone living in an old people’s home, which is exactly where Blair was raised and lives. 

And this is where the fun starts.

Except not for Blair who now finds her tween years marred with the necessity to go to primary school. She objects to her mother’s new directive arguing that being home schooled by an octogenarian is more than adequate especially for one with an exceptionally high level of intelligence who bases her healthful diet on how tall it will enable her to grow.

Blair Moon is at once a complex and comedic character. Proof positive of the ‘nurture’ argument when it comes environmental influences. It’s not only Blair’s language, persona and food tastes that are outwardly more mature than her class mates, her frames of reference are also deliciously ‘old fashioned’. She’s a cut-out for sense and sensibility, preferring lawn balls and bingo in lieu of playing horsey at lunch time. Her mind races with ideas and mandates she is determined to facilitate once she becomes president.

To help her attain world domination (beginning with class president) and a prerequisite ‘coolness’, Blair enlists the assistance of her erstwhile best and only friend, Poppy. Poppy is a delightful mix of loyalty, enthusiasm and street smarts rather like a beagle who values friendship above all else. So, when Blair’s righteous self-edifying manifestos (which she believes are for the good of the world) threaten their relationship, Blair is forced to reassess her objectives.

This is a coming-of-age story for kids that aren’t even near ‘that age’ yet, in that it articulates the vagaries of fitting in, beginning something different for the first time, and the complexities (and absurdities) of primary school relationships in a refreshing and frequently laugh-out-loud light. It takes but a few moments to relax into the precocious, philosophically espousing, yet completely appealing Blair Moon thanks to Mounser’s accomplished narrative and convincing character repartee. Blair takes annoying-11-year-old ego to the very edge but never pushes the reader over it so we are able to fully enjoy watching others succumb to her irritations; queue her mother, teachers, principal, older sister, best friend, school bully … you get the idea.

Blair Moon is far cooler than the moon. And funnier to boot. Put it on your recommended reading manifesto for higher thinking upper primary schoolers (the Blair Moons) as well as the horsey-playing kids (the Poppys).

Title: Blair Moon: How To Be Cooler Than The Moon
Author: Ashleigh Mounser
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing, $18.99
Publication Date: 1 October 2023
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781922696373
For ages: 10 – 13
Type: Middle Grade Fiction