Eloise McGraw dedicated her Newbery Honor Award winning book, The Moorchild, “To all children who ever felt different.” Doesn’t that touch the child in each one of us?
In changeling tales, the fairies snatch infants and pretty children from their beds, whisking them off to fairyland as pampered pets, companions, or slaves. Sometimes a fairy is left behind, glamoured to look like the stolen child: a bad-tempered, sickly, hungry creature who is a plague to the human parents.
In The Moorchild, McGraw does not tell the story of the human child stolen by the fairies or elves (or the “Folk” as she refers to them), but instead focuses on the Folk child that was exchanged for the human child.
Saaski (who was known as Moql by the Folk) is half Folk/half human. That’s the problem. She simply does not fit into either world. The Folk rejected her when they discovered she was half-human, and secretly exchanged her for the newborn of a loving couple in the nearby village. Saaski grows up amongst the humans, but looks and acts quite different from the other children, which makes her life very difficult because we all know that humans are fearful of things that are different or that they don’t understand. The story of what it is like to not belong in either world, and how she eventually comes to terms with her situation, makes this a poignant and fascinating read.
This book makes a lovely read-aloud, and is also available as an audiobook with narration by Virginia Leishman. To read more about changeling stories, visit The Endicott Studio and read the excellent essay by Terri Windling.
The Moorchild is my 4th book read for Carl’s Once Upon a Time reading challenge, and I highly recommend it.