by Michael Ende
First sentence: “Long, long ago, when people spoke languages quite different from our own, many fine, big cities already existed in the sunny lands of the world.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: If you can read The Phantom Tollbooth, then this one is for you. It’d be in the Middle Grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.

This book is one of the reasons why, busy as I am, I won’t give up an in-person book group. (I’ve been a slacker with my on-line one lately…) While I read The Neverending Story by Ende as a child (when the movie came out…), I had no idea (and no inclination to find out, for some reason) that he’d written any other books. But, because it’s probably been 30 years since I’d read Neverending Story (or seen it for that matter; we may have tried showing it to the kids), I had no idea what to expect.

What I got was a sweet little fable. Momo is a little orphan girl that shows up in this town and moves into the old amphitheater. What endears her to the people in this town to Momo is twofold: she has a remarkable imagination, and she truly listens to them. Then one day, the grey men show up and infiltrate the town, stealing time from people. Suddenly, no one has enough time for Momo to listen to them, and everyone except the children stay away. And even the children are different. Momo happens to find out the grey men’s plan, and then sets out on an adventure to get her friends back.

It reminded me most of The Phantom Tollbooth: it was a bit on the preachy end — YEAH I get it, unplug from being busy and actually CONNECT with people — but it was also sweet and tender and had that late-60s/early-70s feel to it. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it is very sweet.

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