Best paired with: Hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies
A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus is a cozy children’s book centered on three orphaned children in London during World War II. After the death of their grandmother, they inherit a large sum of money that they are too young to touch. With no guardians, their grandmother’s solicitor recommends that they look for their future family as they are billeted out into the countryside. However, their inheritance is to be kept a secret so their money won’t be a draw for people to adopt them. As the children travel from billet to billet, they encounter various hardships including bullies and ruined books. Will they ever find their true home?
The three Pearce orphans in A Place to Hang the Moon are fantastic main characters. The eldest, William, is the responsible one, and is practically raising his younger siblings. Edmund—much like Edmund Pevensie whom he was named after—is the one who says things that were probably better left unsaid. And Anna, the youngest, is a sweetheart who just wants to love and be loved. As I read the book, I noticed how the three siblings were always there for each other, showing love and being understanding. Having such a strong bond between the siblings helped to drive the coziness of the book. Sentences describing what the children were thinking and feeling were written excellently and made them seem all the more alive.
By far, though, my favorite character was Nora Müller, the local librarian who’s been somewhat ostracized for being married to a German. Throughout the book, she shows complete love to the Pearce children, although people in the town declare her “unsuitable” to take care of the children. Nevertheless, whenever they come into the library, she helps them the best she can. In one of my favorite parts, Anna finds out she has nits—lice eggs—in her hair, and Mrs. Müller offers to get them out right there in the library.
“Thanks, Mrs. Muller,” William said. “But honestly—we’ll manage.” A part of him hoped she couldn’t see the tears burning his eyes. Another part rather hoped she could.
The librarian’s voice was nearly a whisper. “I’ve no doubt you would. But this seems to me rather unfair to expect a boy of twelve to manage.”
Kate Albus was directly inspired by C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe when the Pevensies were forced to leave their mother in London and go to the countryside during the bombing. I haven’t read very many World War II novels, but maybe I should read more, considering one of my favorite books is Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery.
All in all, A Place to Hang the Moon was a wonderful trip to 1940s England…a trip that I’ll no doubt take again.