Books & Literature

Book Review: Raised by Moths, by Charlie Archbold and Michelle Conn

PICTURE BOOK: Wonderfully fantastical and thought-provoking with stunning illustrations, Raised by Moths is quite unlike anything you’ve read.

A gentle and whimsical fantasy story about love and animals.

Feature image credit: MidnightSun Publishing

Charlie Archbold is a writer and educator, best known for her middle-grade novel The Sugarcane Kids and the Red Bottomed Boat and YA novels Mallee Boys and Indigo Owl. Raised by Moths is Archbold’s first picture book.

As we look at the front cover, we feel a sense of peace. We see circus tents poking up from the bottom of the page and a Ferris wheel at the top with one carriage surrounded by shining moths. The sky is pink and everything else is a dark purple. It is sunset. Turning to the endpaper, we see moths dancing in a line across the double page. On the title page there is a baby in a blanket being carried by moths. Illustrator Michelle Conn has already piqued our curiosity.

Raised by Moths is the story of a little girl called Willow who goes to a fair one evening with her mum. She asks to join a boy in one of the carriages on the Ferris wheel. “Of course”. He smiles. A sudden stop of the wheel terrifies Willow, but reassured by the boy, magical things start to happen. Hundreds of moths appear and the boy tells Willow he was raised by moths.

This story is pure fantasy. It is about the relationship between children and animals and offers a magical take on adoption. Some children who are literal thinkers may be confused by this, and others who were actually adopted may feel even more confused. But the story has a sense of peace, love, and warmth which would hopefully make all children feel wanted and cared for.

Raised by Moths is a gentle story with beautiful illustrations. The double page showing animals caring for babies is beautiful and evokes emotions of love. Young children with a natural affinity towards animals will understand the feelings of the two children.

Much discussion about adoption may follow the reading of this book, but some children will just accept it for what it is: a whimsical fantasy story about two children who share a secret.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: MidnightSun Publishing
Released: October 2023
RRP: $29.99

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