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July 2003
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The Wind on the Moon by Eric Linklater (1944)

WHEN Major Palfrey goes off to war, he warns his daughters Dinah and Dorinda that a wind is blowing on the Moon: if the girls misbehave, the cold wind will blow straight into their hearts.

As soon as their father is gone, Mrs. Grimble (the local witch) gives the two girls a potion which temporarily transforms them into kangaroos. Meanwhile, Major Palfrey has been captured by Count Hulagu, an Eastern European dictator. Both girls end up in Hulagu's dungeon with their father. Rescue arrives in the form of two weird dwarfish men, who sing duets while they tunnel through the earth.

The Wind on the Moon was written in the darkest days of World War II. The villain in this children's novel is clearly based on Hitler, but he is no Chaplinized buffoon. Count Hulagu is a deadly antagonist, with thousands of eager disciples ready to capture Dinah and Dorinda. The fantasy events in The Wind on the Moon possess a dark compelling logic.

Eric Linklater (18991974) was born in Wales but spent most of his life in the Orkneys, with long sojourns in China, India, and the United States. He published more than forty books, including A Spell for Old Bones (1949), a fantasy set in first-century Scotland. His marriage (to a cousin of mine) produced two sons, for whom Linklater wrote The Wind on the Moon. This fantasy classic won the Carnegie Medal in the year it was published, and has remained in print ever since.

—F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre

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