By Laura Ennis, BK Story Voyager librarian
Kelly Barnhill’s “The Girl Who Drank the Moon” is a fantasy novel about witches, monsters, and a madwoman. Every year, the Protectorate, sacrifices a child to the great forest to suppress the terror of the witch who resides there. However, this witch, Xan, is not an evil witch. After a baby is left in the forest, Xan rushes to the baby in order to bring it to the Free Cities for a better life. Xan feeds the child starlight to help it grow and sleep calmly. One year, Xan accidentally feeds the baby moonlight, which gives the baby magical powers. She decides to raise the child as her own, and gives her the name Luna.After Xan takes Luna as her own, the calm of the Protectorate and the forest begin to unravel.
Kelly Barnhill’s prose is compelling as she weaves the enchanting tale of “The Girl Who Drank the Moon”. Barnhill’s ability to explain Luna’s experience of becoming a magical person helps the reader understand the intentions of every character in the story. The characters struggle with being true to themselves, even if doing so goes against the rules of their world. The story helps children better understand the themes of oppression and power. Though slow to begin, once the reader learns who to trust and who not to trust, s/he is hooked!
“The Girl Who Drank the Moon” is primarily for the middle grade reader in Grade 4-Grade 6. It is a book for a child who loves the world of magic, inquiry, and monsters. If you enjoyed “A Wrinkle in Time”, “Ella Enchanted”, or “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” this 2017 John Newbery Medal winner should be your next read.