Reviews for Moon and I

Kirkus Reviews 1992 April
An adroit blend of telling experiences from Byars's life and ingenuous confidences about her writing, linked by her friendship with a huge blacksnake (``Moon'') that she first observed coiled on a porch beam at the log cabin where she writes--all recounted in the inimitably forthright, witty voice that has endeared her to readers of her 36 children's books. Flashing back to childhood encounters with snakes and to escapades like riding ``the first skateboard in the history of the world'' (``Bee told me to...Fortunately...we didn't know you were supposed to stand up...Otherwise I wouldn't be alive today''), Byars interpolates glimpses of herself as writer (in order of importance: characters, plot, setting, ``good scraps''; ``Most of the other things--like theme and mood--I don't think about''). There are nifty anecdotes (emboldened by curiosity, she picks up a dead snake on the road, then panics when the bag it's in crackles), slyly revealing how her mind works while also entertaining readers with hilarious conversations, outrageous details, and pithy lists (e.g., good scraps that later turned up in books: ``a woman who made varmint stew''; ``puce tennis shoes''). This ebullient self-portrait is so delightfully informal that it may seem artless; actually, the dovetailing of the several elements is extraordinarily skillful, the comments on writing as sage as they are succinct. A must. B&w photos. (Autobiography. 9+) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly Reviews 1992 April #3
For Byars, meeting an enormous blacksnake on her front porch becomes a springboard for tracing her lifelong love of animals, and also her likes and dislikes, successes and failures as a writer. The result is an appealingly idiosyncratic narrative that seamlessly weaves together the Newbery winner's life and art. In a personable, highly conversational style studded with wry observations and shot through with humility and perspective, Byars shares her views on the relative significance of various elements of a story; the importance of names in inventing characters (``I never had any trouble creating a terrible character as long as his name was Bubba''); the necessity for ``lots and lots of good scraps'' from real life; and the impossibility of writing when one is being watched, even by a snake. She uses lists, questions, examples from several of her works and even excerpts from fan letters--flattering and not--to illustrate her points. And, of course, she traces her developing friendship with Moon in its often hilarious ups and downs. It is pure pleasure and privilege to be thus invited into the world of such a warm and engaging artist. This goes far beyond most memoirs in its ability to engage the reader. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 1992 April
Gr 4-7-- In this lively personal narrative, Byars focuses on the humorous results of her recent encounter with a very large, slightly mysterious black snake. Readers are thereafter treated to many interesting facts about snakes, and the elusive reptile becomes the key that opens the door to the author's happy childhood, the writing process, and the woman herself. The snake as centerpiece is a truly inspired choice; readers will be hooked into learning not only about such creatures and their habits, but also about Byars. In a witty, conversational style marked by short sentences and paragraphs and a deceptively simple use of dialogue to capture the humor or irony of the moment, this writer tells how she has arrives at the ideas for her books. Children will love this offering. It is very special nonfiction that truly entertains as it informs. --Phyllis Graves, Creekwood Middle School, Kingwood, TX Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information.