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Publishers Weekly Review
Almond (Raven Summer) shows his playful side in this story of an urban boy with a large imagination and unconventional neighbors. Paul, who lives in the basement apartment of a high-rise, yearns to touch the sky. He goes on an adventure to the top floor of his building, and on his way up he runs into some unusual residents. One of them, who is pretending (or is she?) to be the identical twin sister of an artist living on the top floor ("I will say that Mabel is on holiday in Barbados, and I have come to look after her apartment while she is away"), proves invaluable in helping Paul fulfill his wish. Then she goes a step further, finding someone who can aid Paul in testing his theory that "the moon is not the moon, but is a hole in the sky." Adorned with Dunbar's whimsical pencil and ink illustrations, this book is a pleasing mix of silliness and creative thinking. Readers will take delight in meeting offbeat characters and in sharing the young hero's discovery of what lies beyond familiar territory. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 2-4-When timid, unadventurous Paul decides to go to the top of his apartment building to "touch the sky," it's a big deal. On the way he meets his neighbors, worries his parents, and makes a new friend in eccentric Mabel/Molly, who lives in the penthouse apartment and actually helps him touch the sky. Soon he discovers that the moon is a hole in the sky that is full of formerly airborne people and things caught there. It's all whimsical, totally unbelievable, and full of exhortation to live life, ask questions, don't make war, test out theories, be courageous, make friends, and so forth. Full-color and line illustrations lend cozy appeal for those beginning chapter-book readers who can tolerate the thematically overstuffed, disjointed, and arbitrary plot that gains Paul a new member of his family, new friends, and perhaps a new outlook on his sheltered life.-Susan Hepler, formerly at Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Urban daily life meets magical realism in this quirky tale of a boy overcoming shyness. Young Paul simply didn't like school, and school didn't seem to like him. Perhaps this is because of his unusual ideas. For example: Is the moon really a hole cut into the sky? A morning spent wandering his high-rise leads to meeting Molly, a wacky artist who drags him and his parents to see her brother, a recluse whose war experiences led him to hatch the same theory. If only there was a way to reach the moon to find out! Though rarely laugh-out-loud funny, Almond employs all manners of amusements (a flying dog, an obsessive elevator inspector, the truth behind the moon) while never losing sight of some refreshing realities: Paul's parents are a real presence, and the city feels appropriately dense. Almond even pulls off one unforgettable, cinematic scene involving the high-rise denizens reaching from their windows to help lift a ladder to the building's roof. Dunbar's full-color illustrations, many stretching across two pages, nimbly dodge the prose.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
One day, Paul, whose family lives in the basement flat, takes the lift up to the twenty-ninth floor of his apartment building because he wants to touch the sky. This journey catapults him into a multi-faceted adventure in which he meets a cast of characters who initially look like regular neighbors, such as the jogger or the penthouse lady, but who turn out to have odd, rich lives and much to teach meek Paul about taking risks and exploring strange ideas. Several of these new friends band together with Paul's parents to help Paul climb to the moon to test his notion that the moon is a hole, rather than a solid body, a notion that turns out to be true. Another cast of characters awaits him inside the moon, including the lovely Fortuna, the Human Cannonball. Through all these encounters and adventures runs an anti-war parable, most poignantly expressed in the battlefield memories of a troubled ex-soldier (who is pictured by Dunbar as a sort of Messiah figure). "'It was whiz bang wallop. It was bing bang boom,' said Benjamin. 'It was crash flash smash. It was noise and heat and pain and howls and buildings toppling and fires burning and flashing light all through the night and black clouds swirling round all day.'" Part Little Prince and part Phantom Tollbooth, Paul's adventure, beautifully illustrated in full color, reveals a new dimension to Almond's particular brand of magic realism. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Roald Dahl meets Antoine de Saint-Exupry in this delightfully improbable tale in which a previously unimaginative English boy named Paul surprises himself by declaring that the moon's just a hole in the sky. Paul, who gets more inventive by the day, meets a cast of eccentric characters who eventually help him stretch a ladder to the moon from the roof of his 29-story apartment building. Ah ha! It is just a luminous receptacle, stuffed with errant projectiles that have inadvertently landed within: human cannonballs, pilots, airships, "anti-missile-missile missiles" and even pterodactyls. The language, reminiscent of The BFG, is a kick: The sky is "fizzy" and "flappy," bombers are "lovely" but also "doomy." While themes of loneliness, grief and the absurdity of war are explored, the tone is light ("Sausages are better than war!"), the dialogue snappy, the story fast-paced and satisfying. Madmen are heroes and crackpots are geniuses in this charmingly over-the-top read-aloud that challenges readers to imagine the impossible. Dunbar's abundant full-color illustrations perfectly capture the beautiful barminess of it all. (Fable. 8-11) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.