Unfortunately, this book wasn't as good as the previous installment. There was just something missing that I can't quite name. Despite this book being under 200 pages and containing frequent illustrations, I feel like it was longer than it was and dragged too much for me to enjoy it. The storyline also wasn't my favorite. It is one that I think would have worked better in graphic novel form. I understand that the author was trying to connect Jo's inner struggles to the plot but I feel like it could have been done better with a different storyline. I still love the characters and their friendship is one of my favorite fictional friendships. I look forward to reading the other books in this series.
As readers of The Phantom Paragrapher will know, I am a big Lumberjane fan so when I saw that they had also released chapter books. I knew I had to read them. In The Moon is Up, the cabins are preparing for their annual Galaxy Wars. Each cabin has to find the nine planets with the clues that their fearless cabin leader Jen has come up with. It's a race against the clock as Zodiac and Roanoke are tied throughout the game. However, it's not a Lumberjanes novel without a bit of mischief and mayhem as someone is stealing the cheese from their camp. The Lumberjanes will discover it's a little mouse who isn't just any mouse, he is the son of an evil Mouse Pirate who has been tasked to stealing all the cheese that the camp has to offer for his mother and her crew. Of course, the mouse falls for the friendship that the Lumberjanes have as they welcome him into their group with open arms. Can the Lumberjanes not only win the annual Galaxy wars but also help save their camp from the evil Mouse Pirate Queen? Find out in Book #2 Lumberjanes series - The Moon is Up written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Brooklyn Allen.
A lot more tension in this installment of the Lumberjanes books for children makes for a better read. First, Jo receives a letter that throws her for a loop concerning her future--and it's a weighty decision she has to make. Second, Mal struggles with a badge she should ace. And last, we've got a suspicious newcomer to Camp...
Jo is my favorite character*, and it's hard to get into her head. April, her best friend, doesn't usually pry, letting Jo be... Jo. Quiet. Introspective. Thinking thinky thoughts. But in this case, she tactfully finds a way to get Jo to talk, and I loved their interactions. I'm always here for Mal-n-Molly interactions, but it was nice to put a focus on the relationship of these two characters. And I have to say, April comes out of it truly winning my respect. She was a very good friend.
Overall, I'm finding these first two books to be a bit sillier than the comics--I don't know how to explain it, but it's probably because the books are aimed at a slightly younger audience. They're a great way to introduce younger readers to the Lumberjanes, paving the way for awesome comics ahead. It seems a bit difficult to translate the comics into book form, but the author is doing a solid job, and the books do provide a more in-depth look into the minds of our favorite Lumberjanes.
*Maybe it's Jen. Argh! It's hard to choose. I adore Jen so much.
Lumberjanes: The Moon Is Up captures the feel of the series well for fans. (Particularly with the few but significant illustrations by Brooklyn Allen.) The camp is preparing for Galaxy Wars, a week-long contest involving a scavenger hunt, trivia contest, and obstacle course, all about the planets.
Note that the promo for the book made mention of its “focus on Jo, the ingenious inventor of the group who also happens to be trans.” I loved seeing more inside her head, since she’s usually the stable, quiet one, but it’s disappointing to see that there’s nothing in the book itself that makes it clear she’s trans. There are gender-non-specific pronouns and a bit of attention on Mal and Molly together, though.
Instead, Jo’s plot is about being conflicted between further scientific study and staying with her friends at camp. Her best friend April is caught up in the contest, Mal and Molly are working on a music badge, and Ripley is eating tons of pancakes. Plus, cheese is going missing. That’s where the fantasy aspect (required for Lumberjanes) comes in, as an unusual creature (with a science fiction twist) is responsible.
The descriptions create mental pictures of a magical place. There are various statements throughout about how “every day is a great day to be a Lumberjane” and “obstacles do not stand in the way of being an awesome scout” and an emphasis on being well-rounded and having fun. Combined with the dry humor, that makes for an encouraging read. (The publisher provided a digital review copy. Review originally posted at ComicsWorthReading.com.)