Swimming To The Moon by Jane Elson

Celebrating Differences

Swimming To The Moon by Jane Elson is a beautiful contemporary novel for ages ten years and over. It is a book that will warm your heart whatever your age.

This is a book that celebrates friendship and differences. We follow lead characters eleven year old Bee and Moon-Star. Both are united by their kind hearts and their ability to empathise with each other.

We all have different gifts. If we see someone struggling and we can help them, we should do so. As we enter the world of year six in primary school, the reader is horrified by the cruelty of the bullies. They continually make fun of those who are different.

Bee is a dear soul who loves bees, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe. She is unique. She is also forgetful and suffers with asthma, which is described as an elephant sitting on her chest. She is also grieving from the loss of the one person who truly understood her, Great Grandma Beatrix. “Great-Gran Beatrix said I can do anything I set my mind to.” Though gone in body, her love remains and it is beautiful to see. Great-Gran Beatrix lives on in the heart of Bee. Every child needs a Great-Gran Beatrix in their lives.

The other lead character, Moon-Star is the grandson of a traveler. He cannot read or write but has other skills such as bee keeping, bare horseback riding and swimming. Like the bees, he needs to be free to roam but society tries to cage him with convention.

Bee is remarkably perceptive. She sees just how brave Moon-Star is. “I wish Mrs Partridge would realise just how brave Moon-Star is, just for sitting behind a desk.” It is clear to Bee that their teacher expects nothing from Moon-Star which is really sad. Every child has gifts which should be encouraged so that they can bud and blossom into the person they were meant to be. “It’s like she [Mrs Partridge] doesn’t expect anything of him, like she’s given up.”

We witness the love of grandmothers – one living, one from beyond the grave – the encouragement and the self-belief they bestow on their grandchildren is beautiful to see.

There is persecution of the travelers by the mayor and his cronies. A near tragedy finally opens his eyes to the fact that every person matters.

Moon-Star’s grandmother is at one with nature. She can literally charm the bees and she has many natural remedies, including those that will help Bee with her asthma.

I absolutely adored Swimming To The Moon. It is a beautiful book about two beautiful souls who help and encourage each other. They celebrate their differences as they learn from each other. They give each other the space to soar.

I will leave you with my favourite quote:

“It takes more courage to attempt the things we can’t do, than to achieve the things we can.”


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