The Book Blab Episode 13: The Girl Who Drank the Moon Plus Two Other Newbery Favorites

May 31, 2017

Several months ago, Suzanne and I announced that we would be reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill in preparation for an upcoming mini book club. That mini book club finally happened last week when Suzanne was in Utah for a friend's wedding, and I was able to steal her away for an hour so we could discuss the book in person.

There was so much to talk about with this story, and we could have gone on for much longer if we'd had the time (and if we'd thought anyone would actually want to watch a three-hour long episode). In fact, after we wrapped up our conversation and stopped recording, we remembered other things we had wanted to talk about. (And at that time, Suzanne also diagnosed why I loved this book even though it's fantasy. Apparently it's because it's more theme driven instead of plot driven. Who knew?!) Anyway, we hope some of you accepted the invitation to read this book with us and will share your thoughts, questions, or opinions in the comments. Enjoy!

1:23 - There will be spoilers in this episode!
2:00 - Plot summary of The Girl Who Drank the Moon
5:40 - Introduction of characters
8:58 - Sorrow versus hope
14:00 - "A story can tell the truth, but a story can also lie."
17:15 - The power of love
  • 19:35 - The relationship between love and magic
  • 21:15: "There is no limit to what the heart can carry." 
23:40 - Humanizing the villain leads to complex emotions
27:00 - Did this book deserve the Newbery?
  • 28:25 - Amy's thoughts
  • 29:50 - Suzanne's thoughts
  • 32:20 - Would a child like this book?
34:40 - Two other Newbery recommendations
  • 35:00 - Suzanne's recommendation 
  • 36:20 - Amy's recommendation
37:50 - Conclusion

Books talked about during the show:

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett
The Giver by Lois Lowry
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead


  1. I'm planning on listening to this, but I'm currently #95 on the library list for the book, so it may be a while. Looking forward to it even more now!

    1. Ack, 95?! That's the worst! Yes, definitely wait to watch this until after you've read it, but I'll be interested in hearing your thoughts at that time!

  2. I finally got the book! And then I finally read it! (Our library loan periods are 4 weeks, and it's due on Thursday.) So I went back and found this blab.

    I also loved the way the themes and the plot worked together. I thought it was a book where the emotional action parallel the physical action. The "no limit to what the heart can carry" theme works well for me, both as how love grows as you are kids, but also in mixed families; I've never worried about my kids' stepmother or felt she was a threat and this book made me realize it's because I know my sons' hearts are infinite.

    I also liked how the book was willing to be complex. Y'all talked about humanizing the villain and that was good (also how even Fyrian had compassion for her -- I loved his explosive growth at the end both physical and emotional), but there was also the darkness of the good guys. I bet kids especially will disapprove of Xan hiding Luna's magic from her, or the entire plot of Antain first working for the Council and participating in the child sacrifice up until he's planning on solving the problem in a dubious way.

    --I went back and looked over the Newbery winner list, because as a kid I thought most of them were fantasy. In modern times only recently 1/3 or so are fantasy so it's not unusual but not regular. (Older ones run more historical.) I think since I preferred fantasy as a kid I remembered those better, and also my mind sorta conflated some historical ones with fantasy since there were both so different to my own life. I did notice that the mom-figure dies in Girl Who Drank the Moon, which is something that the Newbery seems to love :-)

    I think kids would like this. I would have. It makes sense on an emotional level, has adults making mistakes as a child grows into power, and monsters and dragons. Maybe I'll try it on my 4/5th grade book club. They've read other things like this that worked well. Of course, these are kids who join a book club, but some of them are only in it for the cookies.

    Thanks for this blab, and sorry it took me so long to reply!


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