The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal) (Paperback)

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(Middle Grade Fiction)

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A magical book about an abandoned magical baby found in the woods!

 

Read an excerpt:

For as long as Xan could remember, every year at about the same time, a mother from the Protectorate left her baby in the forest, presumably to die. Xan had no idea why. Nor did she judge. But she wasn’t going to let the poor little thing perish, either. And so, every year, she traveled to that circle of sycamores and she gathered the abandoned infant in her arms, carrying the child to the other side of the forest, to one of the Free Cities on the other side of the Road. These were happy places. And they loved children.

When Xan arrived at the grove, there was no baby to be seen, but it was still early. And she was tired. She went to one of the craggy trees and leaned against it, taking in the loamy scent of its bark through the soft beak of her nose.

“A little sleep might do me good,” she said out loud. And it was true, too. The journey she’d been on was long and taxing, and the journey she was about to begin was longer. And more taxing. Best to dig in and rest a while. And so, as she often did when she wanted some peace and quiet away from home, the Witch Xan transformed herself into a tree—a craggy thing of leaf and lichen and deep-grooved bark, similar in shape and texture to the other ancient sycamores standing guard over the small grove. And as a tree she slept.

She didn’t hear the procession.

She didn’t hear the protestations of Antain or the embarrassed silence of the Council or the gruff pontifications of Grand-Elder Gherland.

She didn’t even hear the baby when it cooed. Or when it whimpered. Or when it cried.

But when the child opened its throat into a full-fledged wail, Xan woke up with a start.

“Oh my precious stars!” she said in her craggy, barky, leafy voice, for she had not yet un-transformed. “I did not see you lying there!”

The baby was not impressed. She continued to kick and flail and howl and weep. Her face was ruddy and rageful and her tiny hands curled into fists. The birthmark on her forehead darkened dangerously.

“Just give us a second, my darling. Auntie Xan is going as fast as she is able.”

And she was. Transformation is tricky business, even for one as skilled as Xan. Her branches needed to wind back into her spine, one by one, and the folds of bark devoured, bit by bit, by the folds of her wrinkles.

Xan leaned on her staff and rolled back her shoulders a few times to release the kinks in her neck—one side and then the other. She looked down at the child who had quieted some, and was now staring at the witch in the same way that she stared at the Grand-Elder—with a calm, probing, unsettling gaze. It was the sort of gaze that reached into the tight strings of the soul and plucked, like the strings of a harp.

“Bottle,” Xan said, trying to ignore the harmonics ringing in her bones. “You need a bottle.” And she searched her many pockets to find a bottle of goat’s milk, ready and waiting for a hungry belly.

With a flick of her ankle, Xan allowed a mushroom to enlarge itself enough to make a fine stool to sit upon. She let the child’s warm weight rest against the soft lump of her midsection and waited. The crescent moon on the child’s forehead dimmed to a pleasant shade of pink, and her dark curls framed her darker eyes. She was calm and content with the milk, but her gaze still bore into Xan—like tree roots hooking into the ground. Xan grunted.

“Well,” she said. “There’s no use looking at me like that. I can’t bring you back to where you were. That’s all gone now, so you might as well forget about it. Oh hush now,” for the child began to whimper. “Don’t cry. You’ll love the place where we are going. Once I decide which city to bring you to. They are all perfectly nice. And you’ll love your new family too. I’ll see to that.”

But just saying so made an ache in Xan’s old heart. And she was, all at once, unaccountably sad. The child pulled away from the bottle and gave Xan a curious expression. The Witch shrugged.

“Well, don’t ask me,” she said. “I have no idea why you were left in the middle of the woods. I don’t know why people do half the things they do, and I shake my head at the other half. But I am certainly not going to leave you here on the ground to feed some common stoat. You’ve got better things ahead of you, precious child.”

The word precious caught strangely in Xan’s throat. She couldn’t understand it. She cleared the debris from her old lungs and gave the girl a smile. She leaned toward the baby’s face and pressed her lips against the child’s brow. She always gave the babies a kiss. At least, she was pretty sure she did. The child’s scalp smelled like bread dough and clabbering milk. Xan closed her eyes, only for a moment, and shook her head. “Come now,” she said, her voice thick. “Let’s go see the world, shall we?”

And wrapping the baby securely in a sling, Xan marched into the woods, whistling as she walked.

And she would have gone straight to the Free Cities. She certainly intended to.

But there was a waterfall that the baby would like. And there was a rocky outcropping with a particularly fine view. And she noticed herself wanting to tell the baby stories. And sing her songs. And as she told and as she sang, Xan’s step grew slower and slower and slower. Xan blamed the onset of old age and the crick in her back and the fussiness of the child, but none of those things was true.

And Xan found herself stopping again and again just to take yet another opportunity to unsling the baby and stare into those deep, black eyes.

Each day, Xan’s path wandered farther afield. It looped, doubled back, and wiggled. Her traverse through the forest, normally almost as straight as the Road itself, was a twisty, windy mess. At night, once the goat’s milk was exhausted, Xan gathered the gossamer threads of starlight on her fingers, and the child ate gratefully. And each mouthful of starlight deepened the darkness in the child’s gaze. Whole universes burned in those eyes,—galaxies upon galaxies.

After the tenth night, the journey that usually only took three and a half days was less than a quarter done. The waxing moon rose earlier each night, though Xan did not pay it much mind. She reached up and gathered her starlight and didn’t heed the moon.

There is magic in starlight, of course. This is well known. But because the light travels such a long distance, the magic in it is fragile and diffused, stretched into the most delicate of threads. There is enough magic in starlight to content a baby and in large enough quantities to reveal the best in itself. It is enough to bless,but not to enmagic.

Moonlight, however. That is a different story.

Moonlight is magic. Ask anyone you like.

Xan couldn’t take her eyes off the baby’s eyes. Suns and stars and meteors. The dust of nebulae. Big bangs and black holes and endless, endless Space. The moon rose, big and fat and shining.

Xan reached up. She didn’t look at the sky.

(Did she notice how heavy the light felt on her fingers? Did she notice how sticky it was? How sweet?)

She waved her fingers above her head. She pulled her hand down when she couldn’t hold it up anymore.

(Did she notice the weight of magic swinging from her wrist? She told herself she didn’t. She said it over and over and over until it felt true.)

And the baby ate. And ate. And ate. And suddenly she shuddered and buckled in Xan’s arms. And she cried out—once. And very loud. And then she gave a contented sigh, falling instantly asleep, pressing herself into the softness of the witch’s belly.

Xan looked up at the sky, feeling the light of the moon falling across her face. “Oh dear me,” she whispered. The moon had grown full without her noticing. And powerfully magic. One sip would have done it and the baby had had—well. More than a sip.

Greedy little thing.

In any case, the facts of the matter were as clear as the moon sitting brightly on the tops of the trees. The child had become enmagicked. There was no doubt about it. And now things were more complicated than they had been before.

Xan settled herself cross-legged on the ground and laid the sleeping child in the crook of her knee. There would be no waking her. Not for hours. Xan ran her fingers through the girl’s black curls. Even now, she could feel the magic pulsing under her skin, each filament insinuating itself between cells, through tissues, filling up her bones. In time, she’d become unstable—not forever, of course. But Xan remembered enough from the magicians who raised her long ago that rearing a magic baby is no easy matter. Her teachers were quick to tell her as much. And her Keeper, Zosimos, mentioned it endlessly. “Infusing magic into a child is akin to putting a sword in the hand of a toddler—so much power and so little sense. Can’t you see how you age me so, girl?” he said over and over.

And it was true. Magical children were dangerous. She certainly couldn’t leave the child with just anyone.

“Well, my love,” she said. “Aren’t you more troublesome by half?”

The baby breathed deeply through her nose. A tiny smile quivered in the center of her rosebud mouth. Xan felt her heart leap within her and she cuddled the baby close.

“Luna,” she said. “Your name will be Luna. And I will be your grandmother. And we will be a family.”

And just by saying so, Xan knew it was true. The words hummed in the air between them, stronger than any magic.

She stood, slid the baby back into the sling and began the long journey toward home, wondering how on earth she’d explain it to Glerk.

About the Book:

The New York Times bestseller

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. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the 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 girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge–with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Deadly birds with uncertain intentions flock nearby. A volcano, quiet for centuries, rumbles just beneath the earth’s surface. And the woman with the Tiger’s heart is on the prowl . . .

The author of the highly acclaimed, award-winning novel The Witch’s Boy has written an epic coming-of-age fairy tale destined to be a modern classic.

— Pat Fowler

Winner of the 2017 Newberry award

— Pat Fowler

Description


Winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal
The New York Times Bestseller

An Entertainment Weekly Best Middle Grade Book of 2016
A New York Public Library Best Book of 2016
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2016
An Amazon Top 20 Best Book of 2016
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2016
Named to KirkusReviews’ Best Books of 2016
2017 Booklist Youth Editors’ Choice


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. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the 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 girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge—with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Deadly birds with uncertain intentions flock nearby. A volcano, quiet for centuries, rumbles just beneath the earth’s surface. And the woman with the Tiger’s heart is on the prowl . . .

About the Author


Kelly Barnhill lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children. She is the author of four novels, most recently The Girl Who Drank the Moon, winner of the 2017 John Newbery Medal. She is also the winner of the World Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, a Nebula Award, and the PEN/USA literary prize. Visit her online at kellybarnhill.com or on Twitter: @kellybarnhill.

Praise For…


2017 Newbery Medal Winner
A New York Times Bestseller
A New York Public Library Best Book of 2016

A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2016

“Impossible to put down . . . The Girl Who Drank the Moon is as exciting and layered as classics like Peter Pan or TheWizard of Oz.”
The New York Times Book Review
 
“A gorgeously written fantasy about a girl who becomes “enmagicked” after the witch who saves her from death feeds her moonlight.”
People
 
 “[Barnhill’s] next middle grade sensation.”
—EW.com
 
“With compelling, beautiful prose, Kelly Barnhill spins the enchanting tale of a kindly witch who accidentally gives a normal baby magic powers, then decides to raise her as her own.”
—EW.com, The Best Middle-Grade Books of 2016
 
« “Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick . . . Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
 
« “Rich with multiple plotlines that culminate in a suspenseful climax, characters of inspiring integrity, a world with elements of both whimsy and treachery, and prose that melds into poetry. A sure bet for anyone who enjoys a truly fantastic story.”
Booklist, starred review
 
« “An expertly woven and enchanting offering.”
School Library Journal, starred review
 
« “Barnhill crafts another captivating fantasy, this time in the vein of Into the Woods . . . Barnhill delivers an escalating plot filled with foreshadowing, well-developed characters, and a fully realized setting, all highlighting her lyrical storytelling.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
« “Barnhill writes with gentle elegance, conveying a deeply emotional and heartrending tale with accessible, fluid prose. Characters are skillfully developed: the heroes are flawed, the villains are humanized, and they are forgiven for sins they may or may have not intended. The swamp monster and dragon provide plenty of moments of humor to leaven the pathos, while the setting is infused with fairy tale elements, both magical and menacing, and given a tragic history. Fans of Barnhill’s The Witch’s Boy and Iron Hearted Violet will find similar intersections of love, loss, and identity here.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
 
« “The Girl Who Drank the Moon takes a probing look at social complexity and the high cost of secrets and lies, weaving multiple perspectives, past and present, into one cleverly unfolding fairy tale. Barnhill crafts wonderfully imperfect characters with poetic prose, warmth and wit. The resiliency of the heroes may be partly because of magic, but also because of critical thinking, empathy, deep love and the strength of family in all its unconventional manifestations. Thoughtful and utterly spellbinding.”
Shelf Awareness for Readers, starred review
 
“Heart-stopping and heart-rending . . . Good and evil square off in this highly original fantasy that satisfies in time-honored ways . . . Poetic turns of phrase, intriguing subplots and fast pacing yield a rich mix of suspense, surprise and social commentary, splendidly exploring ‘memory, hope, love, and the weight of human emotion.’”
San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Magic, witches, moonlight, starlight, a baby dragon and baby sacrifice swirl together in this spell-binding high fantasy.”
San Francisco Chronicle (Holiday Roundup)
 
“If your kids have already read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and they can’t get enough of Neil Gaiman, they’re going to love Kelly Barnhill’s new fantasy, The Girl Who Drank the Moon.”
St. Paul Pioneer Press
 
 “The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a story of love, curiosity and the magic of the everyday world . . . this is a novel about the journey, not the destination — one filled with wisdom and heart.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“Magic, witch-lore, an evil Council of Elders, a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, twists and turns and an utterly fantastical world—this book keeps you hooked!”
—Kim Childress, book editor of Girls’ Life
 
“An involving—and often wondrously strange—adventure. Though aimed at middle grade readers, this has plenty of marvels and tongue-in-cheek moments to keep older readers entertained as well.”
Locus
 
“Infused with unique forms of magic. Philosophy and plots intertwine, woven together with bejeweled language and themes of love, secrets, power, belonging and family.”
—Charlotte Observer

“A fresh take on fantasy.”
Iowa City Press-Citizen
 
“This story of a girl who gains magical powers after a witch saves her life by ‘feeding her moonlight’ has drawn comparisons to The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan.”
New York Post
 
“There’s much to love about this fast-paced story. The characters are charming, good and evil battle it out in scenes that keep the pages turning as the story builds to its climax, and the real witches come out of the woodwork. There are plenty of surprises as the author wends her way to a conclusion, leaving not a single stone unturned. Children, and adults too, will be “enmagicked” by this addictive tale.”
Washington Missourian
 
“A delightful read, especially for upper elementary and middle schoolers who love traditional fantasy.”
—Providence Journal (Providence, RI)
 
“Refreshing, magical, oftentimes comical, and full of adventure and heart, The Girl Who Drank the Moon soars off the pages. Readers will be fascinated in a spell that will sing to them and wrap them up in a finely woven tapestry of fantasy and magic. Few storytellers have the gift of so deftly arranging a fantasy or building a world so magical that readers want to live there, but Kelly Barnhill is the best at her craft. If you loved The Witch’s Boy, you will love The Girl Who Drank the Moon even more . . . An instant classic, a book that today's children will read someday to their children. Highly, highly recommended. I would recommend this book over all others this year. It is honestly the best book I’ve read in years.”
El Paso Times
 
“Kelly Barnhill is an artist, weaving a tightly-developed world from prose that reads like poetry. The Girl Who Drank the Moon is high fantasy at its finest and belongs on the same shelf with legendary tales like The Once and Future King, The Hobbit, Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising Sequence, and Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain.”
Nerdy Book Club
 
The Girl Who Drank the Moon is pure magic . . . Barnhill weaves together poetic prose—along with a few actual poems—well-developed characters, a perfectly escalating plot, and a beautiful message to create the extraordinary tapestry of this nontraditional fairy tale that will engage readers of any age.”
Barnes & Noble Kids Blog
 
“This entrancing novel is full of beautiful detail with a very well-crafted plot line and exquisitely developed characters. Light and dark magic combine to weave a complex, twisting vine of a tale.”
—Skipping Stones
 
“From pure hearted characters to beautifully detailed backdrops, everything about this story is truly mystical . . . The Girl Who Drank the Moon is an unforgettable story that is so beautifully written it must have taken magic to write it.”
—YM2 (Young Mensan BookParade e-zine)
 
“It is the strong element of emotional entanglement between parents and children that sets this book apart from the bursting shelves of middle grade fantasy. Barnhill does an excellent job of reminding us that, while sorrow can be a dangerous and overwhelming force, love is an even greater magic.”
Cleaver Magazine
 
“Just lovely—a worthy precursor to authors like Gaiman and LeGuin. Barnhill has a knack for telling a complex story in deceptively simple, lyrical fairy tale language, and the way she teases the individual threads of this story together—the brave boy, the magical girl, the witch’s forgotten history, the mad mother—is brilliant. The characters—minor and major—live and breathe; the world of the story feels sturdy enough to stand on its own . . . go ahead and add The Girl Who Drank the Moon to your reading list.”
home |school | life magazine 
 
“This fantasy book about the unexpected power of magic, love and sorrow is told with beautiful prose and some humor . . .”
Free Lance-Star (Ferdericksburg, MD)
 
“Get lost in the magic of a middle grade read with The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Beautifully written and poetic, this is a tale that defines magic and love in a whole new light . . . Kelly Barnhill has a magical way of bringing a story and moral to light, while delicately dealing with deep issues. Perfectly suited for young readers, this book is also entertaining for an older reading audience.”
Independent Voice (Dixon, CA)
 
 “A page turner for all ages. A rich cast of characters that includes a highly intelligent swamp monster, a tiny dragon, and a child imbued with powerful magic form the heart of this enchanting middle grade novel from Barnhill, who weaves an engrossing plot involving family, truth, and sacrifice.”
Tullahoma News(Tullahoma, TN)
 
“The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a marvelous children’s story about fear, secrets, and the power of love . . . a wonderful book that older children and teens should enjoy reading.”
—Portland Book Review
 
“Sure to delight readers of other fairy tale-style stories like Neil Gaiman’s Stardust with its deliberate mixture of allusions, satire, and playfulness.”
Midwest Book Review
 
“This novel is as magical as the magic that threatens to burst from Luna. There is no way to escape its touch as you dream through the pages. It has everything a good story needs – a mystery that is not figured out by the reader until the very end; several unlikely heroes, as well as an unconventional family; so much love mixed with so much pain and sorrow; and magic so unbelievable, it becomes as believable as the age of its painter. Read this book.”
Geeks of Doom
 
“A fantasy set around Luna, a girl whose magic begins to emerge on her thirteenth birthday, set in a rich fantasy world.”
Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC)
 
“A misunderstood witch, a poetry-spouting swamp monster, a tiny dragon with a simply enormous heart, a girl fed from moonlight and a town filled with tragic sadness all come together in this brilliant new novel from the author of Witch’s Boy. Fans of Maile Meloy, Alice Hoffman and Shannon Hale will devour this sad, funny, charming, clever stand-alone fantasy adventure.”
Angie Tally of The Country Bookshop for Pinestraw Magazine (Southern Pines, NC)
 
“A spellbinding book that will keep you at the edge of your seat . . . Not only does the story show compassion and hope, it shows unconditional love . . . Look for this book to become a classic . . .”
—Young Voices of New York
 
“A modern fable about a witch named Xan, who accidentally gives a baby moonlight instead of starlight, and the child, Luna, who grows up to be magical and dangerous. Factor in a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, a swamp monster, a not-so dormant volcano, and a mysterious woman with a tiger’s heart and, well, you’ve got something truly magical.”
NW Book Lovers
 
“Barnhill’s impeccable writing makes for effortless reading, while she spins her plot with perfect pacing. Packed within the story are some tremendously thought-provoking themes which elevate this quite beyond an ordinary fantasy and make it a superb choice for a middle-grade-and-older book club.”
OrangeMarmaladeBooks.com
 


Product Details
ISBN: 9781616207465
ISBN-10: 1616207469
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: April 30th, 2019
Pages: 400
Language: English