The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Bluebonnet Author Site (with author interviews, fun book-related projects to help kids further understand the book’s themes, and many resources about things like the moon, volcanoes, and dragons)
The Girl Who Drank the Moon is my third Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee to read. Kelly Barnhill writes fantasy books for middle graders, a category that can be difficult to find that age group. She has done it again here, and it’s easy to see why this book was chosen to be a BA nominee this year. (It has also already won the Newbery Medal.)
Each year, the Protectorate offers up their youngest child (always a baby) to the witch who lives in the woods. They march the baby to a circle of trees and leave it there in the hopes that the sacrifice will keep the witch away from their village. What the villagers don’t know is that the witch, Xan, protects the babies, feeding them starlight and finding them new homes. One year, she accidentally feeds a baby moonlight. As a result, the baby becomes enmagicked, and she decides to raise the baby, named Luna, herself. At the same time, a young boy in the Protectorate decides to go on a witch hunt in order to free his village of this costly sacrifice.
I will preface this by saying that this wasn’t my cup of tea (or mug of hot chocolate, since I don’t drink tea), but it is a great book. I think it’s an excellent segue for middle graders into fantasy novels. If I was between 8 and 12, I would absolutely fall in love with this book. (And since I can’t help but think this way, it would make a beautiful, fun movie as well!)
The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a solid, middle grade fantasy novel, and I think most kids will really enjoy it. Depending on your young reader’s reading level, I would say this is good from age 9 all the way through high school. Younger readers will enjoy the fantasy, magic, and seeing how small kids can accomplish big things. Older readers will be able to get into the underlying themes and more subtle details of the novel, particularly the ideas of what makes a family and just how powerful the bond between mother and child can be.
Barnhill has done a fantastic job of filling in the fantasy genre for younger readers, and I think this is a strong contender for the winner of the Texas Bluebonnet Award.