by Kelly Barnhill
Kelly Barnhill reminds us that updated fairy tales still have a place in young adult literature. She incorporates a plethora of iconic images and arctypes in forming the story. Stars, the moon, a dragon, a tower prison, a witch in the forest who eats children, orphans, nuns, a mad women and helpless babies. Even a cloud of doom covering the village harkens back to fairytale imagery. A slight tweek to the iconography was a delightful dragon that didn’t grow up.
As with any good fairy tale or fable sprinkled within the story are words of wisdom such as forgiveness, fear of what others tell you, overprotecting those we love and the power of hope. “It’s awfull to be cut off from your own memories.” “The answer is too easy, my friend. Look deeper.” I found Barhill’s messages about orphans and adoption, however, somewhat idealized.
Barhill sets the story between a village covered in the cloud of doom around a large bog and a forest. Her travels walking in Costa Rica influenced her choice of location and descriptions.
Kelly Barnhill Wins the 2017 John Newberry MedalThe Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
on August 9th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Magical Realism
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.
One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule -- but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her -- even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.
The acclaimed author of The Witch’s Boy has created another epic coming-of-age fairy tale destined to become a modern classic.