“When the goat's milk ran out (as it invariably did--the trek was long, and milk is heavy), Xan did what any sensible witch would do: once it was dark enough to see the stars, she reached up one hand and gathered starlight in her fingers, like the silken threads of spiders' webs, and fed it to the child. Starlight, as every witch knows, is a marvelous food for a growing infant. Starlight collection takes a certain knack and talent (magic, for starters), but children eat it with gusto. They grow fat and sated and shining.”
~THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON
Today, THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill became a Newbery Award WINNER!!!!!!!
This was my all-time favorite middle-grade title of 2016, and I am SO, SO, *SO* HAPPY FOR THIS WIN!!!!
(So I'm celebrating by FINALLY reviewing the book, which I read back in August/September, but I haven't had WORDS to give a worthy review because it's so much better than I can ever tell you!!!)
When I first picked up THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill, I already knew it was going to be special. Sometimes, you just know. The lyrical writing style captured me from the get-go. It felt like an instant classic that will be around for years to come. It felt like a tale from times long past. I mean, just look at the above quote I pulled out about feeding starlight to an infant! THAT is the type of book this is. Whimsical and lush, something to immediately hug to your heart.
The people of the Protectorate are surrounded by dangerous woods and have had their world previously brought to the brink of destruction. To combat the danger and keep the town safe, every year, on the Day of Sacrifice, the youngest among them is sacrificed and left in the woods to be devoured by a horrible, evil witch. In return, the witch will leave the town alone.
The only problem? There is no witch.
The Elders invented her in order to keep the Protectorate firmly under its control, to keep people from leaving, from moving on. They leave the baby in the woods to die, alone and afraid.
Except...there really IS a witch.
Her name is Xan, and she is kind and good. Every year for some unknown reason, the people of the Protectorate leave an infant alone in the woods. Every year, Xan makes the trek to save the child and take him or her to a new family miles and miles away. The adoption occurs at the same time each year, on Star Child Day, and the children grow up to be happy and healthy. Xan always feeds the children a little bit of starlight, which is exactly the right food for a growing baby. However, this time she accidentally feeds a baby some moonlight and enmagicks her. She names the baby Luna and promises to raise her as her own, to become a witch's apprentice. But Luna never imagines the way she may eventually be reunited with her birth town....
My summary is nothing. It can't encapsulate all that is this magnificent book. Especially since there is SO MUCH MORE to the plot. And a lot of it is spoilery. But the novel has some amazing villains that will consume a child's imagination, as well as some fiercely lovable heroes. And dragons. There is a tiny, tiny dragon who thinks he is huge, and he's such a lovable sidekick!
THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON reads like a fairy tale. Like mythology. Like a book you just want to hug and hug and share with every child you come across. It's the perfect blend of fantasy and whimsy. As soon as I finished, I just...couldn't. And it's been almost half a year since I read it now, and I STILL can't. There are no words for how much I loved this book.
When I finished, I immediately wanted to read every single Kelly Barnhill book. And I was simultaneously shamed because I have OWNED her novel IRON-HEARTED VIOLET since it came out--in 2012! I have an ARC of THE WITCH'S BOY and even got to MEET Kelly at the Book Expo of America....in 2014. But I have grievously never read either!!!! Even today, you guys. EVEN TODAY. I have had the two book sitting on my nightstand since SEPTEMBER for IMMEDIATE READING and haven't had the time. I am so ashamed. And will certainly be reading both in 2017!
You don't have to take MY word for how special THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON is, though. In October 2016, Fox Animation announced that it had bought the rights to turn the book into a movie. The screenplay will be written by Marc Haimes, who got a LOT of good press in 2016 for his work on the movie Kubo and the Two Strings. This book has a beauty all its own, and forms pictures of its world with its words. I can see it being an absolutely stunning animated film. I'm so excited for it to come out so that more people can discover THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON, which flew under the radar in 2016 and wasn't talked about a lot. BUT THAT WILL ALL CHANGE NOW THAT IT'S A NEWBERY WINNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you want a great book that will appeal to all ages, from children to adults, and utterly enchant you, then THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON deserves one of the highest spots on your 2017 TBR list!