Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Middle Moffat, by Eleanor Estes

The Middle Moffat is one of five books about the Moffat family written by Eleanor Estes and illustrated by Louis Slobodkin.  This one is about Jane, who is not *technically* the middle Moffat (she's neither the oldest nor the youngest, but there are four children total), but she feels the need to give herself a title of some kind to distinguish herself, and she likes the sound of "Jane, the middle Moffat".

The Moffats have moved to a new neighborhood in Cranbury, Connecticut, modeled after the author's childhood hometown (and being a New Englander, I have my suspicions as to which it is).  The book follows Jane as she finds her place in the community, finds a best friend, gets to know and enjoy the town's Oldest Inhabitant (just shy of 100 years!), and generally lives a year of childhood with its ups and downs and mishaps.  I have to say that Jane handles the mishaps with more grace and good spirit than I would have at her age; she's a pretty resilient kid!  It's great that she's the kind of character that can see the humor in these events, rather than getting upset about them (as I would have been likely to do at that age).

The first book in the Moffat series was published in 1941 and from what I can tell, took place in the present (although radio was being discussed as a new invention; perhaps it was only at this time that it became available for young science enthusiasts to build and use at home?).  World War II is discussed on the margins of things but isn't remotely central to any of the story's events.

Sue, if you haven't read these books I think this is a series that Young Sue would have enjoyed.  The only thing that made me cringe a bit is that in winter, Janey complains about her chilblains itching a lot.  This was a word I'd come across in books before and somehow I'd imagined them as some bizarre cold-induced plantar wart sort of thing.  How wrong I was.  Ouch and ack.  Enough with the chilblains!

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