MAGGOT MOON

Sally Gardner & Julian Crouch (Illustrator)

In Sally Gardner’s 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, set in a ruthless regime, an unlikely teenager risks all to expose the truth about a heralded moon landing.

What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell — who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright — sees things differently than the rest of the “train-track thinkers.” So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor,

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In Sally Gardner’s 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, set in a ruthless regime, an unlikely teenager risks all to expose the truth about a heralded moon landing.

What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell — who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright — sees things differently than the rest of the “train-track thinkers.” So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And it’s big…One hundred very short chapters, told in an utterly original first-person voice, propel readers through a narrative that is by turns gripping and darkly humorous, bleak and chilling, tender and transporting.

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  • Candlewick Press
  • Paperback
  • September 2014
  • 288 Pages
  • 9780763671693

Buy the Book

$8.99

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About Sally Gardner & Julian Crouch (Illustrator)

Sally Gardner is an award-winning author whose novels have sold more than 1.5 million copies in the U.K. and have been translated into twenty-two languages. She is dyslexic and is an avid spokesperson for dyslexia. “I strongly believe that dyslexia is like a Rubik’s Cube,” she says. “It takes time to work out how to deal with it, but once you do, it can be the most wonderful gift.” Sally Gardner lives in London.

Julian Crouch is a director and designer whose career has spanned theater, opera, film, and television. He is currently designing Big Fish for Broadway and Cinderella for the Dutch National Ballet. Julian Crouch lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Praise

“Gardner does a masterful job of portraying Standish’s dyslexia through the linguistic swerves of his narration, and although the ending is pure heartbreak, she leaves readers with a hopeful message about the power of one boy to stand up to evil.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Standish’s tale has the terse, energetic tension of poetry; his phrases and sentences roll out with irony, tenderness, horror, or love, but always vividly…Most appealing of all, however, is Standish Treadwell himself: tender, incisive, brave, and determined, he takes a stand and treads well.”

The Horn Book (starred review)

“This novel will just blow you away…Such a beautiful read…this certainly has the potential to become a modern classic.” —The Bookseller (U.K.)

Startlingly original, sophisticated and moving, Maggot Moon is out of this world.” —The Sunday Times (U.K)

Discussion Questions

At the beginning of the novel, Standish observes that “what ifs are as boundless as the stars” (p. 1). What is the historical “what if” that puts the plot of Maggot Moon into motion? When is this novel set? Where is it set?

“There are train-track thinkers,” says Hector, “then there’s you, Standish, a breeze in the park of imagination” (p. 4). What does Hector mean? What are the advantages of being a train-track thinker? What are the risks of thinking differently?

“Gramps was the only person that still pulled at the gravity in me,” says Standish (p. 23). Why is this such an apt description of their relationship?

Standish is an awful reader, an even worse writer, and an all-around terrible student. Why are these advantages for him, not disadvantages?

Death and disappearance are common events in Zone Seven. How do most of its inhabitants respond to their losses? How do Gramps and Standish respond to theirs?

The Motherland’s moon project is an audacious and expensive hoax. Who are the leaders trying to fool? Why? Without Standish’s intervention, do you think they could have succeeded?

Why was the moon man silenced by government agents? How and why was Standish’s mother punished? What other means does the Motherland use to silence dissent? How does it reward compliance?

Standish seems to travel freely between reality and fantasy. At what points in the story did you realize that what you thought was imagined was actually true? In what other ways does the novel continually keep readers off balance?

How did Standish and Hector discover the planet Juniper? Who inhabits it? Do you know any Juniparians? Are you one?

Who are the leather-coat men and the Greenflies? Where do they get their authority? What have they given up for that power?

“Terror is an odd thing,” says Standish. “It has made me panic, it had made me spew, but this time, I felt a calm fury” (p. 170). How do you explain Standish’s reaction to the armed intruder in his home? How would you react?

Although he can’t recall how he learned the story and doesn’t know the names of its characters, Standish knows the biblical tale of David and Goliath. What is the point of that ancient story? Why is Standish modeling himself after David?

Gramps sometimes wonders if “there is any such thing as a truth. Hard to tell when so much is a lie” (p. 167). In a land full of lies, how do you recognize truth? Why must you try?

How does Hector save Standish’s life? How does he also put it at risk? How much is each willing to sacrifice for the other?

“I believe the best thing we have is our imagination,” Hector says to Standish (p. 142). Do you agree? Why or why not?

Reunited with his wounded friend, Hector, Standish wonders why mankind is so cruel. How would you respond to his question?

Two stories unfold in this book. One is told in words and the other in pictures. Why do you think the book ends with a drawing? What does it mean? What do you believe happens to Standish?