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K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection


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Author/Publisher/Website: Crossan, S.
Copyright: 2018
Evaluation/Record Entry Date: Nov/2019
Submitting suppliers/Website: Not Available
Primary Identifier: 9781681193663
Recommended Grades and Subjects/Courses: 10-12
(View recommended grades and subjects) English Language Arts

Resource Description

When Joe’s brother Ed faces his upcoming execution for a murder he swears he didn’t commit, he asks Joe to leave New York and head to Texas to visit before the execution. While Ed’s lawyer tries to secure a stay of execution and have the conviction overturned, Joe heads to Texas, and struggles with whether to put his faith in his brother or the justice system. Once in Texas Joe gets a job, meets a girl, and tries to discover the truth about his brother. This novel in verse can be used for literature circles or independent reading, and offers opportunities to discuss difficult topics, such as ethics, the death penalty, criminal justice, lethal injections, forgiveness, and false convictions.


Does the resource support BC curriculum?
This product supports the Core Competencies of the BC curriculum:
Creative Thinking
Critical thinking
Positive Personal and Cultural Identity
Personal Awareness and Responsibility
Social Responsibility
Moonrise is a novel written in verse, so it can be used for the grade 10-12 English Language Arts curriculum to explore how different forms of text influence the message and purpose of the text. The novel can be used to construct connections between self, text, and world, and students can respond to it in personal, creative, and critical ways. Students could exchange ideas and viewpoints to build shared understanding and extend thinking; they could also use it as a basis to transform ideas and information to create original texts. This text could be used for discussions and lessons around reading strategies, elements of style, literary elements and devices, and genres of text.


In the letter Joe receives from his convicted brother, Ed mentions that he's surprised that the cops didn't frame a black guy for the murder of the white police officer of which he has been convicted.
Belief System:
The novel deals with the death row conviction of the main character's brother and his upcoming execution, and notes that the execution would not occur in a different state.
Socio Economic:
Joe, his siblings, and their single mother live at or below the poverty line, and Joe steals from others in order to have enough money to eat and stay in a rented apartment near the prison where his brother is held. The warden and his family are middle class.
The novel is about the upcoming execution of Joe's brother, who has been convicted - wrongfully, according to Ed - of the murder of a police officer. Joe dreams of child soldiers being brutally slain by machetes.
Ed argues that he was wrongfully convicted of the murder that has resulted in his upcoming execution. The warden of the prison goes through with the execution despite feeling uncertain about the justice of it. The death penalty is not applied in every state, and so there is some discussion about the justice of it. The main character steals money and food. Underage characters smoke marijuana and drink.
The main character is an older teen who has saved enough money to travel alone to another town, where he rents an apartment in a bad area of town, one that is infested with cockroaches. Joe's mother is frequently drunk and abandons her children, eventually permanently. Joe drives upset and acknowledges that he shouldn't be driving.
There is semi-frequent usage of swear words such as "shit."
Do the social considerations support, rather than detract from, student learning?
Social Considerations Comments:
The language and actions of the teenagers in the novel are realistic. The novel deals with the ethics of the death penalty and the possibility of false convictions, and involves the main character struggling with the ethics of some of his actions, which encourages the reader to consider the concept of justice.


Is the resource engaging?
Is the content current for the intended curriculum and grade?
Is the content accurate for the intended curriculum and grade?
Is the content timely and important for student broad understandings?
Is the content appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Does the resource provide opportunities for creative and critical thinking?
Is the level of detail appropriate?
Is the language use appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
The novel is written in verse, with no illustrations besides the front cover. As such, the reading level cannot be adjusted. It deals with mature subjects (the potential for false conviction, the death penalty, execution by injection) from the point of view of the brother of the convicted, and could be used to consider several ethical issues and cultural experiences.


Does the resource make effective use of the medium?
Is the resource easy to use?
Is the use of font, text size and presentation uniform?
Are extraneous elements/illustrations kept to a minimum?
The novel includes no illustrations outside of the front cover, and the font, text size, and presentation are uniform. It is written in verse format. The Author's Note at the end provides relevant information to understanding the concepts discussed in the novel.


Does the text show insight into the complexity of the human condition?
Does the text broaden students’ experiences and understanding?
To what degree is this text stylistically rich?
Plot description:
Ten years ago, Joe's brother Ed confessed to murdering a police officer in Texas - far away from their home state of New York - and was convicted and sentenced to death row. Now, as the date for his execution approaches, he asks Joe to come and visit. Although Ed's lawyer is attempting to have the conviction overturned or the sentence commuted, claiming that Ed was pressured into giving a false confession, Joe struggles between his faith in his older brother and his belief in the justice system. Despite this, he travels to Texas to be there for Ed, even though their Aunt Karen orders him not to go. He gets a job, meets a girl, and tries to understand who his brother really is.
Related Comments:
The novel deals not only with the conflict between the state and Ed, Joe's convicted brother, who is trying to have his sentence commuted; it also shows Joe's internal conflict over his brother's guilt or innocence and his struggle to overcome his own prejudices in regards to the Warden and the Warden's daughter. Through verse (and through backstory), Joe's thoughts and feelings are explored in detail, showing his growth as a character. By telling the story from Joe's point of view (rather than Ed's), the readers experience the emotional turmoil that Joe (an innocent) feels in a way that they might not if it was from the point of view of Ed (a convicted prisoner).
novel in verse
Literary Highlights:
Complex conflict
Rich Characterization
Point of view
novel in verse


At intended grade level(s)
Moonrise was shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2017, the YA Book Prize 2018, the CBI Book of the Year Award 2018. It was longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019.


This is a novel in verse, and as such could be used to explore using poetry as a form of narrative writing in a Creative Writing course. It could be used for independent reading or a literature circle novel, particularly for students who struggle with the speed of their reading. It could be the basis for discussions around ethics (particularly in terms of the death penalty) or law (in terms of the criminal justice system in the USA).