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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 1 year, 3 months ago

16 July 2019 THE MOON WITHIN by Aida Salazar, Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, March 2019, 240p., ISBN: 978-1-338-28337-2


“Menarche is the first menstrual cycle or first menstrual bleeding in female humans. From both social and medical perspectives, it is often considered the central event of female puberty, as it signals the possibility of fertility...The average age of menarche is about 12.5 years in the United States.”

-- Wikipedia


“In the moonlight

Under starlight 

Songs old as the night

Are what I’ve been dreaming of”

-- Hall & Oates (1984)




A beam of moonlight

squeezes through

my window’s curtain.


Luna is out tonight.


My eyes wide open like doors.


I’ll be twelve in a few months, I should

be allowed to go to sleep later

than seven-year-old Juju who shares a room with me

but I’m not.

No matter that it is Saturday.

Round-cheeked Juju passes

out the moment his head hits the pillow.


And I stare at the May moonlight.


I watch her light up a sliver of dust

in my room.

Like a performance

small specks dance

twirl, bounce





They dance like I do.


I try to memorize their choreography

to use during bomba dance class

when Magda drums for me

and I am free to improvise

bring my own moves.


I smile to think that specks of dust

dance around me

though I don’t hear music.

Maybe they dance to the clicks and creaks

of our little house in Oakland

and the city crickets

and Mima’s and Papi’s footsteps

outside my door

Juju’s steady breathing.


And when Luna is gone

and I can’t see their floating,

I know they continue to dance

in a dream

with Luna and me.”


THE MOON WITHIN is a spirited coming-of-age verse novel set in Oakland, California, featuring eleven-year-old Celestina (Celi) Rivera. Celi’s body is busy transforming her from a child to a young woman, and she is dreading the inevitable arrival of her first period. This reluctance is in large part the result of Celi’s reluctance to be the center of attention at the women’s Moon Ceremony that her herbalist mother is intent on organizing for her. 


Meanwhile, Celi’s lifelong best friend Magda is coming to the realization that she’s a boy in a girl’s body. Conflict develops when Iván, the skateboarding boy on whom Celi has a crush, makes fun of Magda, who has begun identifying as Marco.


The story contains rich Mexica cultural traditions and rituals. There is a wealth of dancing and drumming and a warm community center where much of the action takes place. Celi’s mother is good about explaining to Celi about her changing female body in a loving, poetic, and readily understood manner. 


Meanwhile, Marco is made to feel special when his gender fluidity is connected to that of the Creator who, in their ancestral Mexica tradition, has “spirit that is neither female nor male but both -- divine duality.” 


By the story’s conclusion, Celi has won Iván’s respect by fiercely standing up for Marco. Celi has also gotten her first period. Both she and Celi and Marco are subsequently honored in the moon ceremony, bringing them into the circle of their female elders. 


I can imagine this being a great mother-daughter shared reading experience. 


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Pickshttp://richiespicks.pbworks.com





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