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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.

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.

“The coauthors’ equally strong contributions evocatively bring the characters and setting to life through visual poetry. The even pacing makes for an engrossing read, and the characters’ pain and promise will remain with readers. A stellar, hauntingly beautiful narrative.” — Kirkus (starred review)

“In an authentic look at the racial divide that continues today, authors Elliott and Miller-Lachman bring varying degrees of own-voices authenticity to the characterizations and emotions represented. Their multilayered exposure of a specific time in history will resonate with modern readers, who will see these racist acts echoed all too loudly in current events….tellingly effective and worth pondering and re-reading.” — Booklist (starred review)

“a tender, engrossing tribute to art and close interpersonal bonds that explores themes of neurodivergence, mental health, and institutional prejudice.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A thoughtfully structured and sensitively rendered verse novel set in early 1980s Brooklyn featuring two memorable protagonists… Both authors are adept at evocatively re-creating the setting, with references ranging from Ronald Reagan’s anti-union stance to Jean-Michel Basquiat, Michael Jackson, and the Clash.” — Horn Book (starred review)

“A touching story of race, class, and friendship… A recommended must-have for middle and high school collections looking to expand their upper middle-grade offerings.” — School Library Journal (starred review)

“eloquently tackles race, culture, and life on the spectrum.” — The New York Times

“While JJ and Pie’s childhoods unfold 40 years in the past, their experience will ring true to modern readers, with explorations of immigration, racism, mental illness, and love – all topics that still resonate powerfully today.” — Quill & Quire

“This book does a great job of putting words to emotions in unique ways.” — Bee Quammie, “The Next Chapter,” CBC Radio

“In the captivating middle-grade novel Moonwalking, two boys in 1980s Brooklyn form an unlikely friendship through music and art….Elliot and Miller-Lachmann use dual points of view to bring this heartwarming but also painful novel-in-verse to life….They delicately cover topics that include interracial friendships, abuse, mental health, immigration, disabilities, class and the sense of belonging in language that is easily accessible to middle-grade readers.” — Shelf Awareness

“This book is not just for poetry enthusiasts. I don’t enjoy reading poetry, but I love this book!” — Tabitha Kho, Time for Kids

“Teenagers have more power than they are often given credit for. Moonwalking is a book that inspires teens no matter their background or identity to fight for what they believe in…” — Katherine, Young Reviewer for Bank Street College of Education Children’s Book Committee, April 2023 Pick.

Elliott, Zetta and Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Moonwalking. Square Fish, 2023. 224 pp. ISBN 978-1-250-86651-6, $8.99 (pb). Also available in e-book and audiobook editions.

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection

FIVE Starred Reviews!

Booklist Top 10 Arts Books for Youth, 2022

Kirkus Best Children’s Books of 2022

New York Public Library Best Books for Kids 2022

Nerdy Book Club, The 2022 Nerdies: Poetry and Novels in Verse

2023 Notable Books for a Global Society

Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books, 2023 (Ages 12 to 14) + Outstanding Merit

NEA “Read Across America” selection, April 2024

Nominee, Charlotte Awards, New York State Reading Association, 2025