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The Girl Who Drank the Moon

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  33,351 ratings  ·  6,738 reviews
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 deliver th ...more
Hardcover, 388 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Algonquin Young Readers
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Kelly I wrote this with a fifth grade reader in mind - but the cool thing about Middle Grade Fiction in general is that it allows for "Big Tent…moreI wrote this with a fifth grade reader in mind - but the cool thing about Middle Grade Fiction in general is that it allows for "Big Tent Storytelling". In other words, everyone is invited: little kids, big kids, teenagers, adults, old people. Everyone. The story manifests differently for different people - just like my experience reading THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE as an adult is different than the experience I had as a teenager, which is different than the experience I had as a child. Same book, different stories. There are some scary bits in this story, but no scarier than any other fairy tale. If they can handle the prose (and I don't pull any punches with the difficulty; I always expect my readers to come with their A game), then they can handle the content. I hope that helps!(less)
Mary Lanham The book doesn't include real-world ethnicities or races, but several of the main characters are described as having darker skin and curling black…moreThe book doesn't include real-world ethnicities or races, but several of the main characters are described as having darker skin and curling black hair. The setting has a classic fairy tale feel without being overtly European, so it's the sort of book kids from many different backgrounds will be able to identify with. Hope this is helpful!(less)

Community Reviews

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4.18  · 
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 ·  33,351 ratings  ·  6,738 reviews

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Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

The people of the Protectorate leave a baby deep in the forest each year, a sacrificial offering made to a witch to deter her from terrorizing the village. When the witch, Xan, finds the babies, she feeds them starlight, but one year she accidentally pulls light from the moon and enmagicks a baby girl. Xan knows that the baby imbued with moonlight will have extraordinary abilities, so she decides to raise t
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
4 1/2 stars.

This is the story of a little baby girl sent to die but who is adopted by a good witch instead. Without meaning to, the Witch pours magic into Luna but, instead of letting her draw from her magic, she bounds it until Luna’s thirteenth birthday.

Incidentally, that is the day the Witch decides to let herself die. But that day is coming and coming, closer and closer, and the Witch starts to regret her decision.

There obviously is more happening in the story than only that. In fact, we hav
Stunning language and memorable characters. Worthy of a spot alongside Susan Cooper, Ursula LeGuin, and Lloyd Alexander. The sort of book that makes you believe in magic (and love).
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Look at that beaut' of a cover guys! How could anyone walk past this in a bookstore and NOT want to read it?! And then the blurb: witches, tiny dragons, swamp monsters, lunar magic...this book had all the ingredients for me to drop everything and just read! Which is why it turned out to be even more disappointing than it would've been without the great expectations...

Blurb (8)

Oh, where to start?! The first 10% was fabulous. After that:

giphy (3).gif

I'll just divide this review into pros and cons to make it easier for
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Winner of the 2017 Newbery Medal
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

So, this book has won a lot of awards and it is easy to see why. This is a great book for middle school readers who enjoy some fantasy and
R.K. Gold
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Update: 3-3.5 stars I really didn’t feel comfortable giving this book 4 stars. I have a lot of friends who LOVED this book and I really wanted to love it too but just couldn’t. I didn’t dislike this book, there was some beautiful writing in it, but I can’t bring myself to rate it any higher.
some minor spoilers ahead It started slow for me and I was terrified I was going to not enjoy this book. A lot of my friends recommended it, and all wrote glowing reviews. It sounded right up my alley. I
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

A beautiful, surprisingly complex story. Perhaps it is a little longer with somewhat darker themes than many middle grade books, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. This reminded me in some ways of A Wrinkle in Time -- the author didn't pull any punches when it came to more sensitive subjects like grief and death.

Although this book deals with some pretty heavy topics, there is also humour sprinkled throughout that lightens the tone. I listened to the audible edition, and Christina
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The beauty of this book begins with its magical title: The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
Luna is enmagicked as a baby by being fed the silvery honeyed moon beams. I was both jealous of that experience and yet felt kinship with it - how often have I felt graced by the gentle silvery radiance of moonlight! Of course, this being a fantasy novel,Luna's magic was more tangible!
The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a fabulous work of fantasy pulling strongly on the art of storytelling and richly imbued with inte
This is a new favorite book of mine. I love this book. I love Luna and her dragon. I love the witch who feed her moonlight. The story feels so big and it seems there is more to it and behind it. I love the tone of the book and the feeling of magic conveyed to the reader. There are some really horrible things that happen in the village and Sister Igraine is quite a character. I love the resolution of the book and how things conclude. It is so satisfying. I don't want to give anything away, simply ...more
La La - Everyone's Crazy Aunt
This book was way too long for Middle Grade, there was too much boring political content, and it was having a huge identity crisis. Some parts read like a great Children's chapterbook, a lot of it was based on an older character and read like okay YA, and then there were two adults in the story who had their adult thinking added in too often. For such a long book there was very little MG age interesting content.

Many of the scenes were too long and a lot of them were basically the same scene in a
Book Riot Community
I’m not surprised this won the Newbery, because it is absolutely stunning. Told in a wonderfully mystical narrative, this book is sure to join the ranks of enduring middle grade classics. The story centers around a long held tradition in the Protectorate, that every year the youngest child must be sacrificed to appease the witch in the forest. But right away the reader finds out the the witch, named Xan, is actually kind and makes the yearly trek to the Protectorate to save the babies from dying ...more
Peter Damien
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just finished, and it was so amazing. Gorgeous, lyrical writing, a warm and clever story, a fairy tale quality. Reminded me of STARDUST by Neil Gaiman, more than anything else. Really recommended.
Katie Ziegler (Life Between Words)
This book was a whimsical treasure of a book. It's one of those middle grade books that works on two levels, like a Pixar movie. Middle graders will love the story just for the story (even if some of the deeper themes woven in go over their head; not discounting children readers, though, we don't give them enough credit), but adults will also find a lot of deeper meaning to the book.

This is a story for EVERYONE to enjoy.

Beautiful writing, quirky, lovable characters (like a big-hearted and wise
Rachel Reads Ravenously


Sometimes you click with a book, sometimes you don't. I was curious about this book because of the Newbery Award but I've been pushing myself for days to keep reading this and I am just not interested anymore.


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Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Stunningly beautiful writing mixed with a perfectly plotted story filled with adventure, humor, and love. Each of Kelly's middle grade books gets exponentially better (which is astonishing, because they are all amazing), and this one will be a new classic for certain sure.
Iryna *Book and Sword*
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This has been on my TBR for awhile, and I have finally checked out a copy from the library.
For some reason I have a feeling that I will love it.
Just have to finish some other books first.

Full review, complete with quotes is up on my book blog

From the moment I started reading and to the last page this was a solid 4 star read for me.
If I had to describe this book in one word I would say - atmospheric.

The world pulls you in, making you feel as you are
chloe ✨
Update: changing my rating from 5 stars to 4.5 stars
i fall in love book blog
I've been done with this book for a couple of weeks, and wasn't sure how to write this review. I thought about just throwing a 3 or 4 star rating down and being done with it, but I feel like I owe it to my friends that have similar tastes to be honest.
I wanted to love this book.
The cover was gorgeous.
The writing was gorgeous.
The ending came together perfectly.
I didn't love this book.
I kept pushing through it, hoping that I would have an "AH-HA" moment and fall head over heels in love with it.
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Fwew. Finally! It felt like it took me forever to finally get through this. I would rate this somewhere between 3 and 3.5 stars. It's not a bad book, but for a Newbery winner, I was expecting more.

What Worked:

The writing is very pretty. Descriptive, poetic, has all the makings of an old-fashioned fairy tale story.

It has some intriguing characters- a swamp monster who's been around since the beginning of the world, a sorrow eater, a childlike dragon, a magical has a lot of
Shaun Hutchinson
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Captivating and wonderful.
Sarah DiMento
4.5 stars

To be honest, the blurb for this book was TL;DR but I picked it up based on the title and cover alone. That's almost a sure way to be disappointed, I know, but in this case it worked out!

So, what do you get when you take:

-a kind and clever witch
-a poetry reciting swamp monster
-an adorably naive Perfectly Tiny Dragon who believes he's actually a Simply Enormous Dragon
-a girl whose magic cannot be contained

Mix in a volcano, a town swamped with sorrow, add heaping spoonfuls of starlight, m
Mollie Reads
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh, I adore this book. Kelly is a masterful storyteller, and I feel this one was brewing in her for a while. Lovers of middle grade—no matter their age—will come away with their own kind of sticky-sweet starlight: more joy, inspiration to forgive and cling to hope, and love multiplied. This is a story about magic, how lies and sorrow and fear can rule and ruin, but how even the brokenness of the mad can be repaired with strength and hope. Sorrow erupts, love blooms, stories bend, paper birds cut ...more
Abby Johnson
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I can see why everyone's raving about this book. It's a complex, rich, magical story with unforgettable characters. It has that feel of a classic fantasy story about witches and forests and magic, but it's also a fresh approach that interweaves science and critical thinking and legend and being kept down by The Man. It's a review cliche to say that it's a story about the power of stories, but IT IS. It's about who's telling the stories and the book gives this macro view while the characters can ...more
This is is such an amazing book with so much to love about it. The story is multilayered and beautiful, sad and uplifting. The characters are all so, so wonderful and unique. I loved each and every one of them. The writing is a joy.

The audiobook narrator did such an excellent job with this book, giving each character a wonderfully unique slant. I listened to this with my kids, but I would have enjoyed it just as much listening to it on my own.

Highly recommended.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it

“Knowledge is power, but it is a terrible power when it is hoarded and hidden.”
― Kelly Barnhill, The Girl Who Drank the Moon


This is a hard one for me to rate. I kept going back and forth between 3 or 4, and finally settled upon 4. There are things I loved about this book and other elements that I did not care for. This a book I really wanted to love and had high expectations for. Perhaps I've grown too old for YA novels.

An elderly witch, an enmagicked girl, a brave young father, a wise, po
Melissa Stacy
"The Girl Who Drank the Moon" is middle grade fiction, and I read this fantasy because the cover is GORGEOUS and that image promised great things. But this story isn't really about the young girl on the book cover, or her little dragon friend. While that young girl and the little dragon are certainly characters in this novel, the story follows at least a dozen different people and creatures in an omniscient, head-hopping narrative voice that tries to channel Laini Taylor's prose in "Daughter of ...more
3.5 stars

A heartwarming middle grade story about magic, love, forgiveness, all amidst a land filled with betrayal and cruelty. The Girl Who Drank the Moon has some powerful political themes surrounding the perils of nationalism and authoritarianism, as well as what happens when people with power - especially men - abuse their power over others. But, these messages are housed within a more wistful, fairy tale-like narrative, in which ideas surrounding the possibility of believing in the unseen an
bella ϟ  [ bella farren ]
4 / 5 stars

“Just because you don't see something doesn't mean it isn't there. Some of the most wonderful things in the world are invisible. Trusting in invisible things makes them more powerful and wondrous.”

This was one of the most precious books I've read in a long time, it was poetic and incredibly beautiful. The perfect middle-grade story for younger readers, but also held so much metaphor and gorgeous life lessons that it was also perfect for anybody in the mood for a character-driven bo
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of magical (middle-grade) stories
A charming and magical story about witches, love, an enormous tiny dragon, and the (dangerous) power of belief. The story is aimed at middle-grade, but anyone wanting to read an old-fashioned fairytale will enjoy this.

Set in a fog-riddled village and a slimy bog, the witch Xan tries to stop Luna’s magical powers from growing too strong. Magic here isn’t taught or preformed with difficult spells: it simply exists, playfully and natural. Flowers bloom in Luna’s footsteps, Xan transforms into a tre
“Just because you don't see something doesn't mean it isn't there. Some of the most wonderful things in the world are invisible. Trusting in invisible things makes them more powerful and wondrous.”
People of Protectorate are led to believe by thier rulers that their is an evil With in the dangerous forest. Each year, they sacrifice a new born child to the witch in hope that she does not harm their towns. The rulers of Protectorate thinks that their is no Witch and child will die and through th
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Kelly Barnhill is an author and teacher. She won the World Fantasy Award for her novella The Unlicensed Magician, a Parents Choice Gold Award for Iron Hearted Violet, the Charlotte Huck Honor for The Girl Who Drank the Moon, and has been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the Andre Norton award, and the PEN/USA literary prize. She was also a McKnight Artist's Fellowship recipient in Children ...more
“Knowledge is power, but it is a terrible power when it is hoarded and hidden.” 67 likes
“How many feelings can one heart hold?... Infinite, Luna thought. The way the universe is infinite. It is light and dark and endless motion; it is space and time, and space within space, and time within time. And she knew: there is no limit to what the heart can carry.” 49 likes
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