Sunday, September 30, 2012

MMGM: Margaret And The Moth Tree by Brit and Kari Trogen

About The Book: Lemony Snicket meets Charlotte's Web in this spellbinding story about a quiet, brown-haired orphan named Margaret trapped in a dreadful orphanage run by the sinister, beautiful Miss Switch. After an unsuccessful attempt to alert authorities to Miss Switch's tyranny, Margaret is forced to endure a life of complete silence. But the new state of affairs proves to be more blessing than curse. You see, Margaret can hear things other people cannot. And on one incredible day, Margaret hears tiny voices coming from a strange, thorny tree and discovers a community of playful moths. Together Margaret and the moths prepare a plan to end Miss Switch's reign of terror and provide a better life for everyone. —Goodreads

First Line: If this were a proper world, beautiful faces would belong to beautiful people. 

Cover Illustrator: Elly MacKay

Who: "My name is Elly and I live in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada with my husband and two year old daughter. Some of my favorite days are spent making paper theater, drinking tea and listening to the CBC. I paint on yupo paper and cut it into layers that I set up in a miniature theater that my husband Simon made for me." —Sunday Brunch

When: "I used to spend a great deal of time as a teen making tunnel books, which I sold at 1st Hand Gallery in Toronto. After university I worked at a gallery for a few years, but after the birth of my daughter I was inspired to create once again. These paper theater works are a return to working with layers (i.e. tunnel books – with the addition of photography). I set up the layers of drawings, on a small scale, like a very tiny stage set or installation. You can take a look at my process page, to see how I create them." —Website

Note: I'd love to feature every cover illustrator, but often it is difficult to find information or even who the illustrator was. 

What Others Are Saying:  “A charming story of magical realism.”— School Library Journal, April 2012

A tale that starts badly and ends more or less well, with an underpinning of dubious philosophy and a shrill, “now I shall teach you” voice.” —Kirkus Reviews, February 2012

“Lightness of narrative tone affords the story’s thought-provoking, dark, and poignant moments their place without slowing momentum.”— Horn Book, July 2012

What I Thought: I have mixed feelings about this book. I loved the cover, the nostalgic feel of it. The voice reminded me of read aloud books from my childhood and brought back those pleasant memories. Unfortunately, the story itself isn't very original, an orphanage with the evil matron and the lone orphan that overcomes. That said, it did keep my attention and the writing kept the tension wound tight. The didactic lessons, I don't think, will appeal to children much older than eight. The moths were original and brought a great sense of whimsy to an otherwise depressing tale, but didn't enter into the story until the last third of the book. 

About The Authors: 
Brit Trogen and Kari Trogan
Kari's Website
Brit's Website

Kari Trogen has been writing stories since elementary school, when she was the only kid in her class who wanted to stay inside for “Writer’s Workshop” rather than play kickball. She liked to read and write stories about orphan girls, islands and, especially, orphan girls on islands! She also loved directing her two little sisters in fairy tale plays.
Kari studied English literature at the University of Alberta in her hometown of Edmonton. It was while living in Surrey, England, during her third year that she realized she wanted to be a professional writer.

Brit Trogen grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, a few steps away from the river valley. As a child she discovered a love of books with the help of her mother and grandparents who were always happy to offer a ride to the nearest library. Her favorites were the ones with hobbits, wizards and animals who talked.
With an early interest in science and nature, she completed a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and worked for several years in a lab poking at worms and frog eggs. She soon found, however, that her greater passion lay in writing. —Kids Can Press

Be sure to stop by the other wonderful MMGM posters. You can find them in my sidebar, they always have such great picks!


  1. Thanks for the review. Personally I'm not into orphanage stories. My daughter is adopted and lived in one for a bit in China. I think these stories portray orphanages in such an unrealistic, negative light and aren't very sensitive to the kids who are adopted.

  2. I'd like to see an orphanage story with kind and caring workers.

    The first line of this book draws me in, however. That's a neat twist.

  3. Wow! Lemony Snicket meets Charlotte's Web. I was a bit taken aback by such an unusual pairing. And I agree that there are too many stories with grim orphanages run by nasty people. Look at the Molly Moon books, for instance. But I love the idea that Margaret can talk to the moths.

  4. Like Joanne, I was hooked by the pairing of Lemony Snicket and Charlotte's Web. And talking moths. All good!

  5. I have never read a book with talking moths. This story sounds like an interesting mix of A Series of Unfortunate Events and Charlotte's Web. It was also fun to learn more about the authors and the illustrator.

  6. Oh, my, I love that first sentence.


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