The Moorchild

The Moorchild

Eloise McGraw

Published: 1996

Pages: 241

Awards: Newberry Honor Book

It was Old Bess, the Wise Woman of the village, who first suspected that the baby at her daughter's house was a changeling.
For a time she held her peace. Many babies were I'll-favored, she told herself. Many babies cried with what seemed like fury against the world - though this little Saaski had not done so as a newborn. It even seemed to Old Bess that the child had not looked quite like this for the first few months, but somehow she could never quite remember.
Moql was one of the Folk, a young magical creature who spent her time learning the ways of her people and playing on the Moor. Except Moql isn't like the other young Folk. She isn't as skilled as they are - and that can get them all in trouble. Declared a danger to the band, half-Folk, half-Human Moql is banished, exchanged for one of the beautiful human children in the nearby village. She becomes a Changeling.
Banished to human existence, Moql becomes Saaski and quickly forgets the life she left behind. Unfortunately for Saaski, forgetting doesn't make her any more human, and her odd ways quickly make her a target for the other children's hostilities and causes no end of trouble for her and her 'parents'.
It is only on the moor, free to run and roam with her music and Tam, the traveling companion of a tinker, and her only friend, that she has any peace. But what happens when the village people are no longer willing to live with her oddities. What happens when she starts to remember?
I thoroughly enjoyed The Moorchild for it's innocence and old-world charm. Despite the darker passages dealing with poor Saaski's treatment by the other villagers (rather Grimm-like, I felt), the book on the whole had a wonderfully European fairytale atmosphere which was a far cry from the current slew of fairy novels written for children at the moment.
The books was rich in texture, layering local dialects (beautifully reminiscent of The Secret Garden) over old-world folktales to create a very authentic window into this folksy world.
Definitely recommended for fairytale lovers of any age.