Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Happy Book Birthday, All Four Quarters of the Moon by Shirley Marr!


by Shirley Marr
Simon & Schuster
Middle Grade Contemporary
368 pages
ages 8 to 12

For fans of When You Trap a Tiger and A Place to Belong comes a gentle middle grade novel about love and resilience, interwoven with Chinese mythology, a Little World made completely of paper, and the ever changing, but constant moon.

The night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, making mooncakes with Ah-Ma, was the last time Peijing Guo remembers her life being the same. She is haunted by the magical image of a whole egg yolk suspended in the middle like the full moon. Now adapting to their new life in Australia, Peijing thinks everything is going to turn out okay as long as they all have each other, but cracks are starting to appear in the family.

Five-year-old Biju, lovable but annoying, needs Peijing to be the dependable big sister. Ah-Ma keeps forgetting who she is; Ma Ma is no longer herself and Ba Ba must adjust to a new role as a hands-on dad. Peijing has no idea how she is supposed to cope with the uncertainties of her own world while shouldering the burden of everyone else.

If her family are the four quarters of the mooncake, where does she even fit in?



Sisterly love rings loud and true with as a girl struggles to figure out her place in the world.

Peijing hopes the family's move to Australia will work out, and she tries her best to deal with the changes, but steering through a new culture, daily life, language, and people is quite the challenge. If that wasn't hard enough, Ah-Ma and Mama are mentally breaking down, which means Peijing needs to step in and help more on that end, too. Weighted down and not sure how to handle everything along with the problems at school, Peijing tries her best to figure everything out.

Note: This one does address themes such as domestic violence, dementia, and touches upon racism.

This is a read with tons of heart. Peijing, is a kind and family orientated girl, who tries her best to keep a positive outlook but often feels like she's sinking, instead. She struggles not only with the new environment and language but can't seem to find her place in school. Still, she does her best and keeps an inspiring and heart-warming attitude...even when it proves difficult, at times. Especially her relationship with her younger sister touches the heart (even when things aren't always smooth) and makes this a wonderful read about the sisterly bond.

While there are difficult issues in these pages, the author does approach them with a gentler touch and keeps it age appropriate. The troubles foreigners face are well-laid and brought across in a way, kids can relate to with scenes where embarrassment and/or frustration are palpable. Even the deterioration of Ah-Ma and Mama's problems are brought across with care.

I especially enjoyed the weave with Chinese myth and paper art as it added the right dusting of magic to keep everything from weighing down too much. There's always a sense of hope as well as a few characters, who really let the light shine in. The pacing remains steady for the most part with only a few sections, which slow a bit, and the writing style hits a younger age group well, although the sentence flow sometimes felt geared for a younger audience. Still, it's a well-done tale, easy to get lost in Peijing's world, and leaves the reader with more than a couple of tidbits for thought.

And here she is...

Shirley Marr is the author of Little JiangFuryPreloved, and Glasshouse of Stars. Shirley lives in Perth, Australia, with her family. Learn more at

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