Published: I believe it was first published in 2004 in Australia, but I'm not sure of the publisher, then in the US in 2006, by Knopf Books For Young Readers which is a division of Random House Books.
Genre: Middle grade fantasy.
Page Count: 197 in my hardcover copy
Summary (from goodreads): Clair-de-Lune lives with her grandmother in the tippy-top of a peculiar old building. Every day she practices ballet, just like her mother before her — the famous ballerina who died when Clair-de-Lune was just a baby. Since that day, Clair-de-Lune hasn’t uttered a word.
Then one day the girl who cannot speak meets a remarkable mouse who can. Bonaventure dreams of founding a dancing school just for mice — but he dreams of helping his new friend, too. Soon the brave little mouse introduces Clair-de-Lune to a hidden world inside, and yet somehow beyond, her building — a world that slowly begins to open her heart. Maybe one day her dreams will come true, too.
Review: Like I said in the published note, Clair-de-Lune was published in 2006, but Cassandra Golds' voice seems timeless. I believe the book is set around the late 1800s, maybe the 1860s? The actual date, as far as I know, is never mentioned. The opening line mentions "one hundred years ago, and half as many again". You could, however, believe that it's set almost anywhere up until probably the early 1900s, which I think is a great thing in a book.
The author occasionally breaks the fourth wall, speaking directly to the reader, which I personally think, if done right, can involve the reader and make a book more personal. Set in third person, the imagery in Clair-de-Lune is just incredible. The building in which the majority of the book is set in seems like a living, breathing creature, and even the characters you might not like so much, you can't help but sympathize with at times.
Plot (in my words): Clair-de-Lune is about a girl named (duhn-da-da-duh) Clair-de-Lune, after her late mother, who was named La Lune. (La Lune is the Moon in French, and Clair-de-Lune translates to moonlight. Isn't that just adorable?) Clair-de-Lune does not speak, cannot speak, although she doesn't know why. The book follows her budding friendship with a mouse named Bonaventure who can talk, and her journey learning how to speak, as well as why she cannot.
Characters: Clair-de-Lune is twelve or thirteen at the oldest. I'm not entirely sure of her age (I probably missed it) but she couldn't be more than thirteen. Since she can't speak with words, she speaks through dance, ballet dancing, as her mother danced before her, as her grandmother danced before her. She would give up anything, though, to be able to speak.
It's very interesting how the author makes a character who doesn't speak, verbally, at least, so alive and real. Despite being in third person, Clair-de-Lune's voice is very much her own, and there's a definite difference from scenes set in her point of view and scenes set from others' points of view.
The other characters, right down to the mice, are very realistic. There are a lot of French(?) names, which could get a bit confusing for some younger readers, but their personalities make them stand out enough that it wouldn't be too confusing.
Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: I don't have anything much to say here besides mentioning again that the names could get a bit confusing for some younger readers.
PG-13 stuff: Well, this is a middle grade book, so there's virtually nothing like swearing or anything in it, but there is a *SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT* death in the book that might be a bit difficult for younger readers. Heck, I cried like a baby. But, there is a happy ending, so it all balances out as far as I'm concerned.
Cover comments: This isn't my exact cover. If you go here and look at the US edition (the third one on the right), that's the one I have, which the colours are a bit more muted in. However, I think this is a beautiful cover in either form. It's actually one of the things that caught my eye and made me order this book. (I was actually on my library's website looking for picture books at the time.)
Conclusion: Clair-de-Lune is a very cute, sweet book. I think both of younger and older readers would enjoy it, and although it's aimed more towards girls, some boys as well might be interested. Very good to give to someone who's shy, as they would probably greatly relate to Clair-de-Lune. Four out of five roses.
Other notes: - Actually, I don't have much. Most of what I wrote down ended in my review. Sorry!!
- Oh, wait, I had a couple of quotes I really liked.
From pg. 12:
For the mouse hole was a tiny replica of the room outside it. Along its walls were mouse-sized mirrors, put together painstakingly from discarded powder compacts. Suspended halfway along both sides there was a mouse-sized barre, constructed from toothpicks. Standing beside it, in first position, was a mouse-sized mouse.From pg. 15 (Bonaventue speaking about his friend):
"Moreover, his heart was once broken, therefore he is very wise."- More about my rose rating system.
And that's about it!
Peace and cookies,