Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton


April is poetry month which meant my least favorite month in English class.  I was never a fan of poetry. Of course I grew up reading Shel Silverstein and then endured more Shakespeare plays that is necessary during High School.  I didn’t even know that modern authors were killing the poetry novel game until college. Now that is way too long to go before finding out about Inside Out and Back Again or Love That Dog.  It sort of became of quiet mission of mine to introduce this type of poetry to children, sothey had a chance to learn and love poetry before they got to Shakespeare (is it obvious, I’m NOT a fan….) I read Full Cicada Moon my first year as a librarian and immediately did my best to promote it whenever I could.  I pulled it back off the shelf for Bendy Bookworm Tween classes I’ve been teaching during this Poetry Month. It was easy to turn into a yoga class because the poetry lends itself to beautiful descriptive imagery. This book is crucial for teaching empathy and persistence. It’s an interesting moment of historical fiction; Mimi is a half Black, half Japanese Tween who has just moved with her family to Vermont in 1969.  While her struggles are definitely tied up in being half Black and half Japanese, there’s a huge portion of this story that deals with what it meant to be a young GIRL in 1969. At one point in this story Mimi tells her classmates she wants to be an astronaut and the class laughs at her. I asked the group of girls I was teaching why they laughed. To my delight and bemusement only one girl questioningly asked, “Because she was a girl?”  As if that was an absurd reason to not be allowed to do something. I loved that we’ve come at least this far, for middle school girls to not see their gender as a justifiable reason to be stopped from doing anything. I know we still have so much more work to do. But it was a great moment and also the perfect moment to honor all those middle school girls that came before that weren’t allowed to be astronauts, or take shop class, or not be invited to a friend’s house because of their skin color.  Full Cicada Moon is a privilege to read and a privilege to share. It’s a remembered time in our collective history that wasn’t all fun-loving-Woodstock-Vermont, that questions our resistance to change and prompts us to do better as we move forward.
For Ages: 8 years old and up
For Those That Liked: Amina’s Voice, Inside Out and Back Again, Blended