Review: Midnight At Moonstone by Lara Flecker
Kit grasped the banister for support. She felt dazed with shock because, down below, the hall was not empty and silent as it should have been; it was teeming with hundreds of historic costumes. The mannequins of the museum had come to life.
(From Midnight At Moonstone by Lara Flecker. P79.)
Kit is supposed to pass the entrance exam to a prestigious school like her siblings did. Her Dad won’t accept any less. The trouble is, Kit’s already found and hidden the rejection letter. The one which refers to her as ‘mediocre’.
Fed up of revision and tuition sessions, Kit runs away to find her grandfather at Moonstone Costume Museum.
Bard (as her Grandfather agrees to be called) isn’t keen on visitors, especially family visitors. He still hasn’t recovered from the death of Kit’s Mum and the loss of his wife. The Museum, once a glorious visitor attraction, is falling into disrepair.
It also has a secret. When the clock strikes midnight, the mannequins come to life. Kit meets them all and befriends the child mannequin Fenella.
Refusing to let her new friends go on the scrapheap, Kit sets to work. But how can she save the museum unless Bard gets in on the action?
A feel-good story which is a most for all fans of the Green Knowe series. Every night at midnight, the mannequins at Moonstone come to life. Their characters represent the people who might have worn the costumes exhibited in the museum. Fenella, for example, is an aristocratic child from the eighteenth century. The most delightful thing about the book is I have seen some of the costumes which inspired the characters (including Fenella’s dress, which is exhibited in the Museum Of Childhood, a couple of miles from where I grew up).
The stakes are set out nicely and there is a chance, at any moment, that Kit could be taken away. With her grandfather unable to face the challenge, the museum will fall into the hands of a suitably vile property developer. His determination to turn it into a conference centre beautifully demonstrates the challenge the arts face to survive in a culture with a narrow idea of productivity.
The theme of pressure will be familiar to children even if their siblings aren’t as impossibly talented as Kit’s. Even without entrance exams, children of ten or eleven will be familiar with the pressure to pick studying over playtime. In his drive to produce academically-exceptional children, Kit’s father overlooks and derides the talents his daughter does have – her creativity and dedication to her arts and her drive to get things done. The book reminds us that different talents are important and that however we measure up in one area says nothing about another.
On the surface, this is a gentle story about a magical museum and a feisty, determined heroine. Go deeper and you will find themes which are sadly relevant to our current society.
A beautiful story. I hope to see more from Lara Flecker.
Thanks to Oxford University Press for my gifted copy of Midnight At Moonstone. Opinions my own.