Cover image for Curse of a winter moon
Curse of a winter moon
Casanova, Mary.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion Books For Children, [2000]

Physical Description:
137 pages ; 22 cm
In sixteenth-century France, ruled by a Church that overtaxes peasants and burns heretics, Marius must postpone his apprenticeship to care for his six-year-old brother, whose birth took their mother's life, and who the villagers, backed by the Church, believe will become a "loup garou" -- a werewolf.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.0 4.0 66623.

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Twelve-year-old Marius promised his mother on her deathbed six years earlier that he would look after his little brother, Jean-Pierre. Jean-Pierre carries the curse of the loup garou, the werewolf, because he was born on Christmas Eve. Southern France in 1559 is in the grips of a widespread hysteria as the Church tries to supress the growing power of "heretics," Huguenots-- people who don't believe in the Holy Church. The villagers of Marius' town become swept up in the mass frenzy, hungry to find and destroy anyone who defies the power of the church.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Set in sixteenth-century France, at the time the Huguenots are making headway with their religious philosophy, this is the story of 12-year-old Marius, who must confront prejudice and fear in his small village. When his brother Jean-Pierre is born, Marius faces all sorts of new challenges. His mother has died during the birth, and because Jean-Pierre is born on Christmas Eve, the villagers believe that he is marked with the curse of the werewolf, the loup garou. Marius takes seriously his responsibility to watch over his brother while his father works in his blacksmith shop. Six years pass. Then all hell breaks loose as enemies of the church are rounded up to be burned at the stake. At first, Marius fears for his brother, but then the boy learns his father is a secret Huguenot. There's a lot going on in this short book, yet Casanova manages to juggle it all. The theology is simplified (an author's note explains more), but the action is considerable, and there are some rough moments (Marius' father is burned at the stake.) Throughout, Marius comes across as a real boy in extraordinary circumstances. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

The persecutions and superstitions of 16th-century France form the backdrop to this flawed novel. Marius, the 12-year-old narrator, watches over his younger brother, Jean-Pierre, after their mother dies in childbirth. Jean-Pierre's birth on Christmas Eve has cursed him as a loup garou, or werewolf. Casanova (Stealing Thunder) evokes Marius's ominous sense of danger, the ever-growing distrust of the ignorant townspeople and some interesting historical contrasts (i.e., reading the Bible on one's own was considered heretical). Despite the high-stakes plot, however, the spare development of even main characters diminishes the emotional impact. Particularly implausible is the evolution of Marius's father, a smithy whose supposed charms caused a noblewoman to give up her position to marry him; he silently coexists beside his sons for six years after their mother's death until the rapidly building animosity of the townspeople causes him to reveal his secrets and confidences. While the setting and conflict certainly highlight the corruption of the clergy and the growing influence of the Reformation, the novel's flat characters make this story curiously unenlightening. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Jean-Pierre was born on December 24, 1553, and his brother wonders if the infant was destined, like many babies born on Christmas Eve, to become a loup-garou, a werewolf. His mother's dying words, "Tell Marius to take good care of his brother," prove to be a challenge. People living in a small village in the French countryside are superstitious, and as Jean-Pierre's sixth birthday approaches, fear of werewolves, heretics, and witches is reaching epidemic proportions. Challenged by Huguenots, the Church actively encourages villagers to rid their town of these followers of the devil. Marius finds his world quickly crumbling when their father is arrested as a heretic and his brother captured. Unable to save his father, he makes an agreement with a self-serving abbot to devote his life to the Church in exchange for Jean-Pierre's safekeeping. When his sibling's body is discarded because he seems dead, the boy rescues him, and with the help of their uncle, the pair set off to start a new life. Marius is a convincing character, full of uncertainties and fears that he gradually learns to overcome as he shoulders great responsibility. Though events sometimes occur willy-nilly and at the convenience of the plot, the narrative is full of life (and death). A lengthy author's note explains the historical events that affect the story. A solid look at a period not often written about in novels for this age group.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.