"This novel in verse, alternately narrated by two boys in 1980s Greenpoint, Brooklyn, one channeled by Elliott and one by Miller-Lachmann, eloquently tackles race, culture and life on the spectrum." — The New York Times
For fans of Jason Reynolds and Jacqueline Woodson, this middle-grade novel-in-verse follows two boys in 1980s Brooklyn as they become friends for a season.
Punk rock-loving JJ Pankowski can't seem to fit in at his new school in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, as one of the only white kids. Pie Velez, a math and history geek by day and graffiti artist by night is eager to follow in his idol, Jean-Michel Basquiat's, footsteps. The boys stumble into an unlikely friendship, swapping notes on their love of music and art, which sees them through a difficult semester at school and at home. But a run-in with the cops threatens to unravel it all.
From authors Zetta Elliott and Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Moonwalking is a stunning exploration of class, cross-racial friendships, and two boys' search for belonging in a city as tumultuous and beautiful as their hearts.
In a 1980s-set verse novel told in alternating voices, collaborators Elliott (the Dragons in a Bag series) and Miller-Lachmann (Rogue) write a tender, engrossing tribute to art and close interpersonal bonds that explores themes of neurodivergence, mental health, and institutional prejudice. After his father is blacklisted from air traffic control work on Long Island following a strike, Joseph John "JJ" Pankowski, who's Polish and reads (under today's diagnostic criteria) as autistic, moves with his family to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. There, he bonds with Puerto Rican and Congolese classmate Pierre "Pie" Velez, a graffiti artist who cares for his younger sister and mentally ill mother in nearby Los Sures. A love of art JJ's for the Clash and Pie's of Jean-Michel Basquiat proves an effective bridge between the middle schoolers' worlds, until a harrowing police encounter shows just how different those worlds are. Concrete poetry that weaves in occasional images and historical and pop culture references (Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, The Chocolate War) lends a clear historicity to a narrative rooted in time and place. Authors' notes contextualize the story's origins. Ages 10 14. Agents: Johanna Castillo, Writers House (for Elliott) and Jacqui Lipton, Storm Literary (for Miller-Lachmann).