Alabama Moon (Alabama Moon Series #1)

Alabama Moon (Alabama Moon Series #1)

by Watt Key

Paperback(First Edition)

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For as long as ten-year-old Moon can remember, he has lived out in the forest in a shelter with his father. They keep to themselves, their only contact with other human beings an occasional trip to the nearest general store. When Moon's father dies, Moon follows his father's last instructions: to travel to Alaska to find others like themselves. But Moon is soon caught and entangled in a world he doesn't know or understand; he's become property of the government he has been avoiding all his life. As the spirited and resourceful Moon encounters constables, jails, institutions, lawyers, true friends, and true enemies, he adapts his wilderness survival skills and learns to survive in the outside world, and even, perhaps, make his home there. This title has Common Core connections.

Alabama Moon is a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312384289
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 09/02/2008
Series: Alabama Moon Series , #1
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 62,399
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Albert Watkins Key, Jr., publishing under the name Watt Key, is an award-winning southern fiction author. He grew up and currently lives in southern Alabama with his wife and family. Watt spent much of his childhood hunting and fishing the forests of Alabama, which inspired his debut novel, Alabama Moon, published to national acclaim in 2006. Alabama Moon won the 2007 E.B. White Read-Aloud Award and has been translated in seven languages. Key's second novel, Dirt Road Home, was published in 2010.

Read an Excerpt


Just before Pap died, he told me that I'd be fine as long as I never depended on anybody but myself. He said I might feel lonely for a while, but that would go away. I was ten years old and he'd taught me everything I needed to know about living out in the forest. I could trap my own food and make my own clothes. I could find my way by the stars and make fire in the rain. Pap said he even figured I could whip somebody three times my size. He wasn't worried about me.

It took me most of a morning to get him into the wheelbarrow and haul him to the cedar grove on the bluff. I buried him next to Momma where you could see the Noxubee River flowing coffee-colored down below. It was mid-January and the wind pulled at my hair and gray clouds slid through the trees and left the forest dripping. I felt the loneliness he'd told me about crawling up from my stomach and into my throat.

I didn't put a cross on the grave. I never knew Pap to believe in things like that. The only way you could make out Momma's grave was the ground that was sunk in over her and 1972 scratched on a limestone rock nearby. I don't remember her face, but I remember somebody else in the bed at night, keeping me warm from the other side. Pap said she reminded him of a yellow finch, which is how she stays in my mind.

I found a rock for Pap and scratched 1980 on it with a nail. After placing it beside the dirt mound, I put the shovel in the wheelbarrow and started back for the shelter. The cedar grove trail was the only one we used enough to wear our tracks into it. It was worn like a cow path from years of walking it with Pap. Not only did he like to come see Momma up on the bluff, but we used it as a main trail to check the northeast trap lines. It had been almost a week since I'd run any of them because I hadn't wanted to leave Pap's side. I was sure the traps were tangled in the creeks, and it only made the sickness in my stomach worse to think that whatever was in them was most likely dead.

Pap had tried to explain death to me, but I couldn't make sense of it. Pap said you passed on and came back as something else. It could be a squirrel or a coon. It could be a fish or an Eskimo. There was no way to tell. The most confusing part of what he told me was that even though he would come back as something else, there would still be a part of the old him that floated around like smoke. This part of him would watch out for me. I couldn't talk to this thing or touch it, but I could write to it. I could make my letters and then burn them, and the smoke would carry my message to him.

When I got back to the shelter, I put the wheelbarrow and the shovel away and went inside. I took off my deerskin jacket and hat, lay down on the pile of hides that we hadn't been able to sell, and stared at the roots in the ceiling. There was always a lot of work to do and no time to rest. But now Pap was dead and things were not the same. I thought about death again. Most things he told me made sense real quick. You boil steel traps to get the scent off. You overlap palmetto roofing so the rain slides down it. You soak a deerskin for two days and it comes out with two days of softness to it. I could understand these things. But what he said about dying and the smoky messages and his hate for government-they were the hardest ideas for me to understand.

He'd said the government was after us ever since I could remember. The shelter we lived in was set miles into a forest owned by a paper company and was a place no person besides us had any cause to be. Even had someone come by, he would have to just about run into our shelter before he noticed anything unusual. It was one small room built halfway into the ground with low ceilings so that Pap had to stoop to walk inside. The roof was covered with dirt, and bushes and trees grew from the top. Over time tree roots had come down into the shelter and twisted through the logs and made their way into the ground at the edges. Everything that showed above ground was from nature. Even the stovepipe sticking up through the ceiling was encased in limestone.

We practiced with our rifles three times a week. Our windows were narrow slits for shooting through and the trees that you saw out of these windows were pocked and chipped from years of Pap and me practicing a stage-one defense. In stage two we moved into the hole at the back side of the shelter where a muddy tunnel led to the box. The box was about a quarter the size of our shelter and made of steel sheets that Pap took from an old barn. An air pipe went up through the ground and was hidden inside a tree stump. Pap said if we ever moved to stage two, we'd cave the tunnel in behind us. We had dried food and water in the box that would last for a week or more. Pap said a stage two would be hard, but the box was made to keep people alive when things got really bad.

"It would be a while before they'd find us," he'd said.

There were no power lines or roads nearby. Except for the path to the cedar grove, we switched our trails every week so we wouldn't wear our tracks into the ground. We made most of our fires in the woodstove to hide the flame. If we had to make a fire outside, we used the driest wood we could find to cut down on the smoke. We couldn't carry anything shiny in the bright sun in case a plane caught the reflection. Our knife blades kept a thin coat of rust on them for that very purpose.

Pap even went so far as to sneak up on his game from the south so that the sound from the rifle shot would be aimed down into the river bottom.

From my place on the hide pile I could hear the birds through the small window slit as the forest grew dark outside. I was used to paying extra attention to the lateafternoon and night sounds. Pap said if the government was coming for us, that's when they'd come. He got nervous and quiet when the sun started dropping.

He liked to sit inside the shelter and work on chores that didn't make noise. The two of us sewed, whittled, scraped hides, and repaired traps while we studied the forest sounds. But I didn't do any of these things the afternoon after Pap died. I couldn't. I just balled up like a squirrel and cried.

Excerpt from ALABAMA MOON by Watt Key. Copyright © 2006 by Watt Key. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC in 2006. All rights reserved. Visitors to this web site are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

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Alabama Moon 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 78 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My teacher read it to te class and i highly reccomend to anyone!!!!!!!! It is a amazing and soon to be classic survial story just AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it read it in 4th grade and so good!!! Its a have to read!!!!! :)
Shawn Govern More than 1 year ago
even if i dont own it on my nook i really loved this book. i felt the pains and joys that the character did. this book is the bomb and so worth the money that you unfortunately pay. read it...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My teacher is reading this in class. Pretty good so far.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I htink this book is incredible this book will be the best book i have ever read in all these years laiteraly
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read it for school. It is a GREAT book and i would HIGHLY reccomend it!!!!!!!!! :D
Mythicalreader More than 1 year ago
This book deals with outdoor adventure, survival, friendship and growing up all in an exciting combination. This book will warm any reader's heart while showing that compassion is needed for those around us. The author give us an inside view of one young man's journey into a new society and how his every day obstacles are dealt with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is suppose to be for young adults. Well, I'm 43 and I LOVED every minute of it. I was looking for something different to read and I sure found it. It's a sweet, sad, funny book.
I hope it's made into a movie. I will be seeing this one for sure. Enjoy!!!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Watt Key has introduced an unforgettable character in ten-year-old Moon Blake. He has lived in the wilderness with his father for as long as he can remember. Moon's father is anti-government and they live a reclusive life, surviving on what they can trap and raise with just an occasional trip to the little country general store. When Moon's father suffers a broken leg, and refuses to seek medical help, his subsequent death leaves Moon alone. Moon manages to see to his wilderness burial, but following his father's instructions to go to Alaska and find others that live their way of life is more difficult. While Moon is very resourceful, he doesn't understand the ways of the modern world and has no idea where Alaska is, or how to get there. The attorney that recently purchased the land where Moon and his father lived believes that he is doing the best thing for Moon, and turns him over to a boys home.

Moon is determined to escape and so he and two other boys manage steal a bus and run away. Moon's survival skills keep them one step ahead of the abusive and determined constable and out of jail. Moon has a chance to learn firsthand about what friendship means and to be able to interact with boys his own age for the first time. The boys are very sympathetic characters...even the bloodhound sent to track them down decides to join them.

Moon begins to question the lessons his father taught him about how bad the government is and to question even his father's lifestyle. Moon is a character that I'll never forget. This action-packed story is filled with chases, captures, and escapes. If you want to encourage reluctant readers, give them this exciting first novel by Watt Key. I'm hoping for another story...Moon is just too good a character to not have a sequel.
KarenBall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Survival adventure! Moon Blake has lived in the Alabama forest with his anti-government father for as long as he can remember, hunting and gathering food and making rare trips to a small general store to trade for supplies they can't make themselves. Moon's father breaks his leg and before he dies he tells Moon that he must get to Alaska, where there are "more people like us." Moon buries his father, packs up the wheelbarrow and walks out into the world -- a place he is definitely not prepared for. He runs into a sadistic constable, and is placed in the Pinson Boys Home (more like prison for juveniles) where he is officially listed as property of the state. Moon finds two true friends there, engineers a wild nighttime escape, and ends up back in the forest, hunted by the vicious constable who's now accused him of attempted murder (and eating his dogs). For a kid who knows absolutely nothing about how the world actually works, Moon figures out how to apply the skills of wilderness living to the outside world, and the good and bad people who live in it. Lots of humor, action, wonderful detail about life in the woods, and unforgettable characters! A movie version's been filmed, but not released yet. 7th grade and up.
samanthawarren on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great boy read--especially for those Paulsen lovers. I am not a huge Paulsen fan, and I read the book in almost one sitting. Great characters and your heart goes out to Moon. Very realstic setting and conflict.
ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Moon is a ten-year-old who has been raised in a shelter in the middle of the forest by his survivalist, anti-government father. When his dad breaks his legs, refuses to leave the forest for medical attention, and then dies, Moon is left alone with his father's dying words that he should go to Alaska. He is taken to a boys home and has his first of many run-ins with the increasingly sadistic, vengeful Constable Sanders. He somehow manages an escape with all the boys in the boys home - this kid not only knows everything about surviving in the wilderness, he may be a long lost relative of McGyver (please excuse the 1980s TV reference). Ultimately, Moon connects with some other boys, Hal and Kit, and finds an unlikely ally in a wealthy lawyer. This was a strangely compelling book, but at times it also struck me as a bit out there. There was something really unsettling about Moon, like an absolutely wild child out of place in the modern world. I did learn somethings about natural living, and ultimately I wished Moon a life where he could find a family to care for him.
knielsen83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Okay, this book made me almost cry many times (and I was at work so I couldn't cry, otherwise I would've). It's about a boy who is living in the forest with his dad, apart from civilization. His dad dies and tells him he should head to Alaska to avoid being caught by the government. However, Moon ends up in a boys' school for a while until he decides to break out. He starts to learn that the world isn't really the way his pa saw it. Overall, it was a moving story that really went straight to your heart.
alice443 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book very engaging and enjoyable. Young Moon's experience living in the wilds, living as a survivalist, losing his father and on his own and under state care shows both the positive and negatives of trying to go solo without being preachy.
Lena.Reed_BoB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy named Alabama Moon. He is very intelligent but is concidered an outlaw because his father and himself was living in protected area in southern Alabama. He is sent to a state home, where the "bad boys" go. He runs away from the state home with two friends and 1 dog. He makes it to California and stays with a family.I like this book because it contains adventure and it is very breath-taking. I would share this book to any number of people, who are able to accept a book that is not only sad but uplifting when you are sad. I recommed this book to those who are very suspiable to reading adventurous book and accept people for who they really are.
rata on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a brilliant book that allowed me as a reader to experience so many emotions. While There were various storylines interwoven, the story did not get lost and i found it enjoyable from start to end. At times I was crying, laughing, questioning, angry, aas well as feeling maternal towards Moon and the various characters. A great read.
ALelliott on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Moon Blake has always lived in the wilderness alone with his pap. Able to survive completely on their own, Moon and his father build shelters, hunt and trap animals, and make their own clothing. Then suddenly, Moon¿s father is injured and becomes critically ill. Though Moon knows a lot about folk and herbal medicine, he is soon left alone to fend for himself. Even worse, a big city lawyer has begun building on the property that Moon and his father called their own, and Moon knows it¿s only a matter of time before he will have to leave.Sure enough, authorities soon come to take him away to a boys¿ home, authorities that include the sadistic Constable Sanders. Moon¿s inability to understand the ways of the outside world soon put him on Sanders¿s bad side. Luckily, at Pinson, the boys¿ home, Moon quickly makes friends who help him break out. He and his band of ¿lost boys¿ head into the Talladega forest, where Moon promises to teach them all how to survive in the wilderness. Frightened by exposure and the sheer vastness of the forest however, most of the boys end up staying behind, leaving Moon with only two friends: Hal, the stubborn leader and Kit, the faithful follower. For a while, the three live very happily in the woods, and Moon thinks he¿s finally settled. But soon, Kit¿s health takes a turn for the worse, and then Sanders shows up, looking for the boys. It¿s then that Moon realizes that his life has truly changed, and he is going to have to make a life-and-death decision.Filled with tidbits about survivalist information, this novel is sure to appeal to middle school kids of all stripes, especially boys. Moon is a tough kid, but with a heart of gold. He¿s not out to hurt anyone, but he also has no idea why the world works the way it does. He has been brought up with the idea that the government is out to get him, and the only thing he can do is hide out far away from civilization. But the kind people he meets slowly show him otherwise. Reading about his slow realization that maybe his dad wasn¿t as sane as he seemed is both a relief and a heartbreak. Teens will cheer on Moon as he rebels against all types of authority, but will also understand why he eventually needs to submit and find a new life in the city. And Sanders is a frightening and disturbing villain who gets his comeuppance in the end.The book is filled with lush descriptions of the wilderness that Moon cherishes, but is a quick-paced read. Key is particularly good at capturing Moon¿s loneliness. Students will gobble the book up to find out if Moon survives, first when he is by himself, and later when he is saddled with two friends who mean well but have no clue what they are doing. There is some mild cussing, but it lends authenticity to already strong character voices. Overall, a fast-paced adventure story that middle schoolers will really enjoy, even if they have never set foot in a campsite.Grades 7-10
oapostrophe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Moon Blake is 10 years old and since the age of two has been living with his father in the woods. Moon's father has taught him how to take care of himself. He can build shelters, hunt and forage for food, make his own clothes, and stay hidden. His father doesn't believe in government. When Moon asks his dad why they live out in the woods alone his dad says, "Because we never asked for anything and nobody ever gave us anything. Because of that, we don't owe anything to anybody." The only contact they have with the world is with a local store owner to whom they sell vegetables they've grown.But all that changes when first, the land they are living on is sold, and Moon's father dies. Now he's truly on his own and this is the story of Alabama Moon.There is great detail in the descriptions of the day to day skills needed to survive. The choices that Moon has to make, and the obstacles he encounters along with the unlikely friendships make this an exciting read. Moon is a strong and resourceful boy with a lot of character. As he narrates the story I felt right there with him as he met his challenges. I'd recommend this to 5th and up.
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alabama Moon is the story of a 10 year old boy who has been raised in the forest by his survivalist father. Moon, as he is called, can gather food, build shelter, find his way in the woods but he has no experience with other people or civilization. When his father dies, and he is left on his own, he has no idea of who to trust and gets on the wrong side of the law. Unfortunately the lawman he comes in contact with is a small-minded bully. Moon is taken to a boy¿s juvenile home from which he shortly escapes from.Moon does not escape alone but takes along a couple of the boys, as he has learned that loneliness is the one thing he can¿t cope with. He and his two friends encounter all kinds of difficulties and heartbreak before Moon discovers that there are adults that are willing to help him and guide him to a place of safety and belonging.Set in the 1980¿s I thought this was an interesting and entertaining look at what happens to the children of these survivalists that leave civilization to escape from any kind of government control. A easy YA read, with a fairly predictable storyline, but with a strong, scrappy main character that you grow to care about.
dcoward on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A 10 year old boy raised by his survivalist father plans to go to Alaska to live with other "government haters" after his father dies. He starts to questions some of his father's teachings along the way, and is stalked by a scary policeman. Fun book, my 64 year old father called it one of the best books he's read all year.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
10-year-old Moon Blake has been raised to live off the land by his father who hates and fears the government. When Moon's father dies, he must survive on his own. He decides to go to Alaska where his father has told him there are more people like them - people who hate the government. Moon is caught and sent to a boys' home, but he escapes and sets off for Alaska, this time with two boys accompanying him. As Moon gets used to being around other people, he starts to question his father's vehement hatred of the government and he has to make up his mind about whether he still wants to live outside of society. A survival-adventure story that will appeal to fans of Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain, this historical fiction book takes a look at the moments when children start to question the truths by which they were raised. I was frustrated with some of the characters and I wish there had been an author's note to explain what inspired Key to write the story and why it was set in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My son read it in school, hes in the sixth grade. He talked me into reading it, I enjoyed the book. Something I would give any child to read, it action packed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best boook eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever and forever