A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (The Witch's Boy) is an expertly crafted fantasy with spiritual undertones, and it won the 2017 Newbery Medal. It has a strong female protagonist, Luna, described as having curly black hair and amber skin. Luna's taken from her family and saved by a kindhearted witch who lovingly raises her but accidentally imbues her with magical powers. Other members of Luna's adopted family are a frisky young dragon and a wise, poetry-loving bog monster. Multiple storylines come together in a dramatic climax espousing the power of love and nonviolence. A great choice for middle-grade fantasy lovers.
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What's the story?
THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON is the story of Luna, taken as a baby from her family in the Protectorate as part of a cruel ritual designed to keep the populace fearful and compliant. Though the Elders circulate a story that an evil witch demands the annual sacrifice, they don't realize there's actually a good witch who saves and protects the babies. When Xan rescues Luna, she accidentally feeds her moonbeams that "enmagic" her, so she decides to adopt and raise Luna in a family that includes a dragon and a wise bog monster. Luna's magical powers prove to be unpredictable and unruly, so Xan casts a spell that cocoons the magic until her 13th birthday. Will Luna harness her magic successfully? This story is interwoven with stories from the Protectorate about an antagonist who feeds on the sorrow of others, Luna's mother who yearns for her lost daughter, and a brave couple who challenge the status quo.
Is it any good?
This fantasy, a brisk-paced mix of magic and witches set in an enchanted land shadowed by a rumbling volcano, has high stakes and multiple threads that bind together in a spiritually resonant climax. Luna, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, is a young girl "enmagicked" by moonlight and raised by a loving witch she knows as Grandmama. There are multiple characters -- one unexpectedly evil -- in this seamless story, and the values are solidly peace-loving and open-hearted. Where other fantasies might culminate in an extended, blood-soaked battle, this one has a satisfyingly thoughtful resolution.
Author Kelly Barnhill is a crisp writer with a lyrical flourish. She sprinkles in sophisticated language, inviting readers to stretch their vocabularies with words such as "undulating" and "murmuration." Her similes are strikingly fresh -- roads unwind "like great spools of yarn" -- and her verb choices vivid -- "The Grand Elder steepled his fingers together." It's an original fairy tale with the feel of a classic.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fate of the evil characters in The Girl Who Drank the Moon. How does what happens to them compare with what happens to evildoers in other books you've read? Do you agree or disagree with the book's take on revenge?
What do the likable characters value? How about the unlikable ones? How can you tell by their choices or actions what they value?
Though the story is a fantasy with magic and witches, are there elements that correspond to your life? How can you relate it to your own circumstances or experiences?
- Author: Kelly Barnhill
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
- Publication date: August 9, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 400
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: August 22, 2019
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