Moraline by Cintia Alfonso Fior is a literary effort on diversity and justice that explores an unlikely young hero’s path to understanding a world that seems bafflingly unfair and richer than we notice.

Review

Moraline feels like an outcast. She can’t, for the life of her, stay quiet during class, and her classmates don’t seem to like her much. But a sudden encounter with a Lakota Chief sets her on a mission to return the Fourth Wind and, with it, the balance to the Earth. What does this even mean? Will she be able to achieve it? Along with newfound partners, Moraline will find her voice and discover that her weaknesses can become her greatest strengths. Will she ever find a place where she belongs?

The stellar feature of this book is its organic approach to diversity. It is, as in life, a spectrum that depends on who’s watching. On the subtle side (from the narrator’s point of view), we have Serenity, who seems like the other girls, but something’s missing in her family. On the obvious ones, we have Edmundo, who is Mexican, and Amani who is Congolese. The best example of Alfonso’s organic approach to diversity is Brandon. Brandon is portrayed as a handsome, popular basketball star, and we only find out about his race much later. This is also an invitation to question our unconscious biases. How do you picture a handsome basketball star? I’m ashamed to admit I never pictured him looking any different from Zac Efron. But Moraline is here to teach us that we should strive to see skin color and other features as another characteristic but not a defining one. For instance, Amani’s main assets are his brain and his dancing skills, not the color of his skin.

Moraline is not the typical hero, either. Even in her climatic moment, her unique quirks show, which will make her more relatable to young readers. We are all in constant construction and discovery, and I find this approach more realistic and healthier than perfect aspirational characters. We get enough of this apparent perfection in social media, and it’s messing with our heads. (https://jedfoundation.org/resource/understanding-social-comparison-on-social-media/)

The book is full of nuggets of wisdom on handling the challenges the modern world presents without ever being preachy. Kids can extrapolate the colonel’s nonviolent strategy to the slugs invading their tomatoes. But the author never dumbs down the narrative by saying this explicitly. This perfect balance between correctness and realness makes Moraline a great read for middle-school-aged kids that’s not too childish for adults to enjoy.

Cintia Alfonso Fior’s well-rounded approach to bullying is crucial for our youth. The backstories of some antagonists are presented as an explanation for their behavior, but not always. Some people are mean as a defense mechanism, some will find redemption, and some will remain mean. This is a valuable lesson on resilience and adaptability.

Alfonso doesn’t shy away from hard subjects that aren’t usually presented in children’s books. Kids need to know the kind of world they are facing and how to change it for the better. The narrative’s not explicitly violent or profane, but it’s never timid. I think kids appreciate being treated as the smart, capable beings they are.

Valuing our ancestor’s wisdom, learning to listen to nature, shining with our uniqueness, and never giving up on fighting for a kinder world are all things Moraline can teach us. And the fact that there’s a fox as part of the team just makes it even more fun.

Book Details

  • Title: Moraline
  • Author: Cintia Alfonso Fior
  • Genre: Children’s Book
  • Theme: Coming of Age, Native American, Adventure, Diversity
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2023
  • ISBN or ASIN: B0BNQVG6FQ
  • Number of Pages: 190
  • Minimum Audience Age: 10

Book Themes

(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)

  • Sexual themes: 0
  • Religious themes: 0
  • Violence, self-harm, etc.: 0
  • Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 0
  • Other adult themes: 1

Children’s Book Features

  • Good role models for younger ones: Not specified by the author
  • Moral values: Not specified by the author
  • Good social manners: Not specified by the author
  • Age-appropriate language and topics: Yes
  • Age-appropriate illustrations: Yes
  • Gained the approval of a licensed educator or professionals in a relevant field: Not specified by the author
  • Based on scientifically-proven data or similar information: Not specified by the author
  • Produced through industry-standard research processes: Not specified by the author
  • Other relevant information:

Rating

  • Content: 5 stars
  • Writing Style: 5 stars
  • Appeal to Target Audience: 5 stars
  • Uniqueness: 4 stars
  • Editing: 5 stars
  • Other factors: 5 stars
  • Overall: 4.8 out of 5


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By Fermosalua

B.A. in Literature and Linguistics. Professional daydreamer, reader, and art-lover. Amateur artist. Housewife in my spare time. Words are my life so I strive to encourage authors and readers alike.