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Published Reviews by
from Books on the Square Newsletter
Imagine going home after a fun day of
play, and finding out you are moving to England for six months. First,
you are excited. After all, who wouldn't want to go to a foreign country?
Then, you suddenly realize that you will have to leave all your friends
and familiar places. This is exactly what happened to Libby Koponen.
BLOW OUT THE MOON is an autobiography
by Libby Koponen. In BLOW OUT THE MOON this book, she recalls the years
of her life when she lived in England. At first, Libby is very excited
about going to England, but when she actually arrives, she is very disappointed.
Libby longs to be in America, and counts down every dayuntil the six
months have gone by. Unfortunately, Libby and her family have to stay
in England for another year. Libby is miserable, until her father discovers
Sibton Park, a boarding school in the English countryside. Libby leaves
shortly after,to haveone of the best years of her life.Libby learns
how to be a proper, young woman, and changes greatly at Sibton Park.She
is no longer the little tomboy she used to be.
BLOW OUT THE MOON shows that change
can be good, and it explains that freedom is not just a word;it is being
able to think and feel how you want to. Another cool thing about it
is Libby Koponen puts in some real pictures of some of the places she
visited in England, and pictures of real people at Sibton Park. It is
a great book for preteen (10-15 years old) girls. I highly recommend
from Just Books
This tale of a young girl's voyage to England and the total difference
in life styles is fascinating. Libby doesn't want to move to England,
she wants to stay with her friends, especially with Henry. Libby is
fascinated by the long boat ride, but when she reaches England Libby
isn't happy. She longs for the sunshine and her American life. The people
at school aren't nice and Libby wants to leave, until she finds Sibton
Park, an English boarding school for girls, and one boy. It offers horseback
riding lessons, and to Libby's horror, table manners. Libby's joyous
times at Sibton Park make you laugh out loud and her funny point of
view is great. Sibton Park comes alive as you read this interesting,
funny story of Libby Koponen's childhood - (JUNE release, high 3rd to
low 7th grade).
- Emily, 8th grader at Eastern Middle School
From the Scholastic Web site
by: Alexis P.New York, Grade 6
was about a girl named Libby who grows up in the USA with her friends
and family. When she is about 8 her dad gets a new job in London. So
he and her family move there. Libby goes to a school with her 3 siblings.
The kids there pick on her so she decides to try and find a boarding
school. She did. At her boarding school her room mates are very nice
to her. They all get along and have fun together. For example, one night
they stayed up until midnight and had a tea party. You have to read
the book to find out if Libby decides to stay in London or move back!
This book was awesome! It never got boring! I never wanted to put it
down. It was very interesting, and I would rate it a perfect 10!!
From The New York Kids' Review of Books
This author's first book is based on the story of her own life. It is
about how Libby leaves America and has to move to London for a year
because her dad got a job there. Libby hates everything about London,
especially school. Her mother notices that Libby is unhappy and suggests
that she go to boarding school in the country. I thought that was weird
because she was only eight years old. Boarding school wasn't so great
for Libby at first. She didn't know anybody at the start and the other
kids teased her about her American accent. Libby, however, came to love
boarding school. She learns to ride horses, makes lots of new friends,
and explores her desire to become an author. This book is interesting
because you learn about what it was like to be an American going to
an English school. What makes it fun is that the things in the book
really happened to the author. She didn't just look stuff up in books
and make it into a story but Koponen actually experienced the events
that take place. Another fun thing about the book is that it is illustrated
with photos and letters from the author's own childhood and time in
boarding school. Blow Out the Moon is a funny and enjoyable light read.
I would suggest it for girls aged nine and ten. - Nina, Trinity School
(age 10, grade 4).
Awards for Blow Out the Moon
- Massachusetts Book Award Honor Book,
- The New York Public Library's 2004
100 Titles for Reading & Sharing
an article about Libby in the Boston Globe.
Blow Out the Moon is now on Kindle and itunes.
the hardcover and paperback are still on Amazon
you see the book in a bookstore withonly its spine showing, please turn
it face out so people can see the cover: thanks!
Out the Moon won this award
in 2005. The New York Public Library included Moon in its
Top 100 Titles for Reading & Sharing.
Reviews by adults
(starred review) Booklist
The word 'delightful' is overused in reviews, but it's difficult to
find on that's more appropriate for this novelized memoir - though warm
and cozy would do in a pinch. During the 1950s, Libby Koponen's family
moves to London. Leaving is difficult, and life is no easier there.
A fan of boarding school stories, Libby jumps at the chance to go away
to Sibton House in the English countryside, where she does make friends,
learns to ride a horse, and is noticed for her writing talent. This
seems to be a book that first-time author Koponen has waited a lifetime
to write. Almost every page is dotted with photos or souvenirs, but
more intriguing than the visuals are the word images she offers of herself:
a bit of a swaggerer who proudly informs the Brits about the Boston
Tea party, but can appreciate the silvery light of the English countryside.
Today's readers, especially Harry Potter fans, will love the Brit bits
and the details of boarding school life. One thing will surprise them.
Having read about Libby's taking the tube alone and going off to school
by herself, they'll assume she's 11 or so. When she matter of factly
states she was eight during her time in England, they'll more clearly
grasp the idea of a simpler time. - Ilene Cooper
When her father announces that they are moving to England for a year,
Libby is sure that this will be her biggest adventure yet. But, when
Libby arrives, England isn't what she thought it would be--the days
are dreary, her classmates and teachers are mean, and worst of all she
is homesick. Where is the great adventure that Libby has been looking
for? Everything changes when Libby goes off to boarding school. She's
ready for anything (including "proper" English table manners,
learning how to ride, and secret midnight adventures)...but are the
English ready for Libby? Reviewed by: Amanda / Sugar Creek
Web Review from Joyce Sidman
new novel BLOW OUT THE MOON by Libby Koponen (which I think was mentioned
here several months ago--the reason I picked it up) is definitely a
story of transition, and transformation. I loved the heroine's voice,
one of the truest child-centered voices I've read in a long time. Libby
(the novel is autobiographical) is an American tomboy whose family moves
to England for a year. She is an adventurous sort, but encounters a
wall of grey English indifference until she goes away to boarding school,
where the adventure really begins.
I loved about this novel was its theme of self-determination. Once she
begins to see herself through the eyes of her boarding school classmates,
Libby decides she needs to make some changes to her brash impulsive
personality. The way she does it--without losing what she thinks of
as her "Americanness" makes for a warm, funny, insightful
story. Things do not just happen to Libby; she MAKES them happen--she
goes out and seeks the
are also great scenes that depict a child's viewpoint on cultural differences.
A great read!
Educators Recommend, June 19, 2004 (from Educationoasis.com)
Set in England in the 1950s, this endearing tale is a wonderful mixture
of memoir and fiction. Libby, the main character, is forced to move
for a time with her family to England. While she enjoys some aspects
of this new venue, life is not quite as easy as it had been in America.
Libby is not popular with her classmates nor her teachers (who make
fun of her accent, her ideas, and her bangs). Things get better, however,
when she is sent to a boarding school in the countryside.
At the boarding school-Sibton Park-she makes friends, is trained how
to ride a horse, and learns how to speak, eat, and behave as a proper
lady might. One simply does not, for example, comment on the food one
is served. And to her credit Libby does not, even though "the English
idea of spaghetti" is a plate of "plain spaghetti.and a small
pitcher of completely smooth, very runny ketchup to pour on top."
The descriptions of time and place are wonderfully vivid. Readers will
slip slowly into Libby's world without realizing it. Soon the words
on the page disappear and you are there with her, in the garden, sitting
under an old oak, the sun making "little wavering patches of light
and shadows on the lawn;" the grass warm to the touch.
At story's end Libby and her family move back to America. There, she
realizes she is not the same person as when she left. Back in her old
school, she glances at the tall windows that went almost to the ceiling.
"I'd never liked how much sky you could see (it was too blank),"
Libby writes. But now, she realizes, she did enjoy the "bright
blank blue sky." It was "filled with light and wide open to
everything. I felt that way, too; and bursting with energy."
The text is interspersed with sidebars, black and white photographs,
and illustrations which help readers picture the scenes and visualize
unfamiliar items-such as Wellington boots and lemon curd.
The story is deftly written. It never lapses into sentimentality nor
does it ever veer from the child's-eye view. Libby's voice shines through-honest
and authentic. At heart this is a moving portrait of growing up, formative
moments, and lessons learned. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by the Education Oasis Staff
Children's Literature - Cindy L. Carolan
A step back in time, this book reads much like a journal, is found in
the fiction section and is based upon the author's experience as an
eight year old. Set in the 1950's, young Libby's family must move from
the United States to England for a year and a half due to her father's
employment. Saddened to have left her friends and after a less than
stellar experience at their local London school, Libby spends the remainder
of her time in England on the 88 acre estate of boarding school Sibton
Park. Her experiences before, during and after this period of her life
are documented in a fictionalized fashion that is entirely refreshing!
Pictures of things and people (family members, schoolgirls wearing uniforms
from the period, coins, table settings, the school, letters, stories
and letters the author wrote, games such as cats cradle and jacks) are
dispersed amply throughout the book. These black and white representations
pleasantly augment the recantation of her story, as do gray fact boxes
that are found sporadically, discussing seemingly unfamiliar topics
such as Guy Fawkes Day, prefects and song lyrics. An obscure note on
the back cover mentions a companion Web site; a delightful compilation
of the first six chapters of the book, color pictures, related fairy
tales and the like. This is the author's first published book and she
invites comments. She lives and writes in Boston. Recommended. 2004,
Little Brown and Company, Ages 8 to 12.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-In this novel based on the author's childhood in the 1950s, Libby,
an engaging and feisty girl, moves from New York to London with her
parents and three younger siblings. Her first school in London is a
less-than-positive experience-the children tease her, and even the teacher
is unkind. But things look up when she is sent to Sibton Park, a boarding
school in the countryside, where everyone is nicer. Koponen is a gifted
writer whose distinctive style has a conversational rhythm from frequent
use of colons, dashes, and the like. She is especially good at describing
what to modern children will seem like a very different time, with adults
thoroughly in charge and children expected to sit quietly while the
grown-ups talk. The author is very good at a kind of straightforward
subtlety, an asset in a quiet book whose main focus is on emotions.
The book's visuals are another asset, with small photos placed throughout,
showing the author's childhood letters, pictures from her favorite fairy
tales, the ship her family sailed on to England, and more. As a novel,
the story lacks dramatic tension, especially after Libby leaves her
first English school, but overall this is a thoughtful and interesting
-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business
See kids read with Dick and Jane
By Kari Wergeland
Special to The Seattle Times
Libby Koponen recounts her recollections of an English boarding school
in her debut novel, Blow Out the Moon (Little, Brown, 209 pp., $16.95,
ages 8-10). Young Libby, an all-American girl, is eager to accompany
her family on a special trip to London for six months. Yet school turns
out to be miserable when the other kids tease her mercilessly for being
Then Libby learns their stay will be extended another year, and she
bursts into tears. Fortunately, her parents decide to send her to a
boarding school, one with horses, run by a sensitive, albeit disciplined,
head mistress. In time, she discovers the English aren't so bad after
all. Koponen's tightly written prose is spiced with humor.
Books offer girl readers out-of-way material
By Lois Henderlong - Special to the
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2004
With all their differences, these three novels for girls at slightly
different age levels are all equally irresistible.
On a much lighter note, "Blow Out the Moon" ($16.95,
Little, Brown and Company) by Libby Koponen is also set in London, but
a very different London. Described by the publisher as a coming-of-age
story, it deals with a preteen American girl's experiences at a British
boarding school, which most readers will undoubtedly find strange and
unusual, but riveting.
Many of the girl's adventures (learning to ride a horse "English
style," eating with a knife and fork properly, and staging a midnight
feast of "lemon squash" and bread and butter) read like every
kid's fantasy. But it's not quite all fun. Early on, she has to deal
with cliques, and one periodic problem won't go away: She can't bring
herself to sing "God Save the Queen." But finally that gets
played for laughs, and the whole thing ends on a not-surprisingly joyous
All of these books offer girls out-of-the way fare. In a world that
sometimes seems ordinary, that's definitely a plus that will pay dividends
for each reader.
Drew Barrymore was nice enough to pose with Blow Out the Moon.
OF THE MONTH
appreciated the non-fiction
elements, such as the photographs
of the childhood memoribilia,
and the fact that it was
Nielsen illustrations for "East of the Sun and West of the Moon." This
on my Web site.