The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Related Activities & Resources:

Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Kelly Barnhill’s blog:

About Kelly Barnhill:

Kelly Barnhill on writing The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Newbery Magic: Adam Gidwitz in conversation with Kelly Barnhill (SLJ)

Kelly Barnhill on her 2017 Newbery Medal

Kelly Barnhill on winning the Newbery for The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Meet-the-Author- Book Reading for The Girl Who Drank the Moon:

Kelly Barnhill talks with Roger

Publishers Weekly Q&A with Kelly Barnhill:

Interview with Kelly Barnhill

Activities & Resources:


Be creative!

Create a personal coat of arms for one of the characters. Possible sections could include the character’s name, a personal motto, a symbol that represents the character, and/or a favorite pastime, animal, place associated with the character. Write a paragraph explaining each section as it relates to content from the book.

Draw a character’s portrait or illustrate a scene from the book, incorporating details from the text. Display the artwork in a classroom or library gallery to stimulate interest in reading the book.

Glerk’s poems help to illustrate important plot points throughout the book. After re-reading the collection of poems in the text, create a poem of your own.  Your poem could focus on a conflict, a place, a character, or an idea that is central story.  If this is a class project, compile the poems into a collection that could be shared in the library or on a class website.

Choose a memorable scene from the book and write a dramatic presentation or a readers theater. Recruit actors to participate in the reader’s theater and include costumes and props, if possible.  After practicing dramatic interpretation, timing, and expression, present the passage/readers theater to other classes to encourage other  students to read the book. If possible, video the presentation and post to the classroom website or Google Drive. If available, use a green screen to create backgrounds for the scenes.

Luna’s journal was very important to her as a place where she could draw and sort out her feelings. Create your own journal to use for writing or drawing.  Design a cover that reflects some aspect of the book that has personal meaning for you.

Participate in a debate on a thought-provoking topic presented in the book.  An example of a topic could be “Lying is acceptable, if the falsehood is told in order to protect another person.” Students should create their positions, pro or con,  and then debate in small groups or individually.  Invite an administrator or another teacher to serve as judge, using a rubric that has been shared ahead of time with the students.  Explore the following website for ideas on presenting  debates:

The author gives a very vivid description of the appearance of Glerk, the monster. Now it’s your turn to create a monster.  Draw a sketch of the monster you designed, including details that will give your monster personality.  You might also like to build a 3D monster with available materials and then display your creation in the classroom or library.

The Council of Elders ruled the Protectorate in a very punitive way, using fear to control the people.  Pretend that you are the ruler of a geographical area.  How would you want to govern your people? Determine a list of rules, detailing your powers and responsibilities, and write this list on a scroll to be displayed in your classroom.

Explore and Learn

If accessible through your library, check the TexQuest digital resources for articles on the moon, dragons, ancient stone circles, or volcanoes,  These resources include Britannica Online School Edition, National Geographic Kids (Gale), Kids InfoBits (Gale), ¡Informe! (Gale), ProQuest SIRS Discoverer and  See the campus librarian for login information for TexQuest resources.

Use the sites below to gather information for student/class projects or just to find out more about these topics.

The moon

The moon

Phases of the moon

Lunation (lunar month) movie

Moon phases (BrainPop)

(Check with librarian to see if log in information is available)

Moon mysteries and myths quiz

Myths about moon

Bill Nye the Science Guy: The Moon (20:54)

Lunar Cycle (6:58)

Moon Phases (song) (3:41)

Flocabulary – Moon Phases (rap) (4:46)


Dragons: creatures of power (American Museum of National History)

Are dragons real?

Where did dragons come from? (AskSmithsonian)

10 Plus Fairy Tales Dragons

Hear ‘em roar: 15 dragon-themed crafts and activities for boys AND girls

Stone Circles

Top ten stone circles UK

Stonehenge: facts and theories about mysterious monument

10 stone circles from the UK

Avebury (29:16)

Stonehenge and other stone circles in the UK (7:27)



Volcanoes (National Geographic for Kids)


Volcanoes QuizWhiz

Volcano Printables

Volcanoes 101 (2:28)

All about volcanoes for children (6:35)

Geography lesson: what is a volcano? (3:13)


Origami birds

Origami birds

Origami birds

Origami birds

DIY origami bird tutorial – paper crafts (easy) (7:07)

Origami for kids (bird) (3:30)

MakerSpace Activities:

Using books or websites for patterns, create a series of origami birds. Hang the birds in the classroom or display in the library.

Create a puppet show based on characters from the book. Write a script and then make puppets for each of the characters in the story, including a narrator.  Puppets can be made from lunch bags, socks, heavy stock paper and sticks, or various types of fabric. Find lots of ideas for creating puppet on the following website:

Create a 3-D or an interactive map of territories mentioned in the book. Include the Protectorate, the Tower, the woods, Xan’s home, the Stone Castle, the bog, the volcano, the Free Cities, and the Road. Re-read the passages in the book that describe these places to make sure you include descriptive details and correct placement.  Turn this into a class project by creating the map as a mural and hanging the finished product in the classroom, the library, or the hall.

Create a book trailer for The Girl Who Drank the Moon, using digital tools like iMovie or Animoto.

Design either a board or an interactive game based on characters and events in the book.  Create the game, either with available art materials (board game) or a coding program like Scratch (interactive), and share with classmates.

Create a class quilt based on characters, places, or symbols  in the book. Examples squares could include images of the moon, volcano, woods, dragon, paper birds, the Tower, as well as characters. Display the quilt with written commentary on the design.

The castle where Xan lived with the magicians was a very special place to this good witch.Create your own castle, sketching and labeling the details of the castle’s design.  Is this a traditional castle or one that reflects a specific need? Then build a 3D model of the castle in the display or classroom. defines the term symbol as, “something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance; especially :  a visible sign of something invisible


What are some objects in the book that “stand for or suggests something else,” and deepen the reader’s understanding of the story and character? Working individually or with a team and using a digital tool like Prezi, Google slides, PowerPoint, or iMovie, create a presentation that explores symbols in the book and the meaning they bring to the story.

Discussion Questions:

Big Picture Questions:

“Yes. There is a witch in the woods. There has always been a witch.” How do these first three sentences of the book set the stage for the rest of the story?

Each chapter has a title that gives a little preview of what will happen in the chapter. What do these chapter titles contribute to the overall book? In your opinion, why would the author begin each chapter title with the very formal phrase “In which…?”

Some of the book’s chapters are written in first person and are set in italics.  Who is the speaker in these chapters?  To whom are the speeches addressed? In your opinion, why does the author include these first person chapters instead of simply telling the story in third person?

A quest, or a long and difficult search, is often at the heart of the fantasy genre. Select a character who is on a quest and describe what the character is searching for and what the character does to reach the goal. Include obstacles overcome and characters who offer assistance along the way.  Explain whether or not the end goal was worth the difficulties encountered on the journey.

Look at ReadWriteThink’s “Common Elements of Fairy Tales” (

Based on this list, does The Girl Who Drank the Moon fits into the fairy tale genre? Explain, using examples from the text to support your opinion.

The author very carefully selected the names of her book’s characters.  Look up the meaning of the following names and describe how the name relates to the behavior or role of that character in the story:  Luna; Ignatia; Xan; Adara; Antain; Ethyn; Zosimos.

The loss of  memory and its effect on the present is a connection that is repeated throughout the book. Think of at least three characters in the book who have lost an important memory. Describe how each selected character is affected when the critical memory is restored. Then share how a special memory has changed the way you think or act.

Think of three major characters in the book who want to control others.  How do these characters use power to get what they want from others? How does each character ultimately lose this power?

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is a book that is full of characters who just don’t fit in to what is considered “normal” society.  Select a character and describe that character’s journey to find his/her place in the world.

Agree or disagree – Glerk is a monster in the traditional fairy tale tradition.  Explain your opinion, supporting your position with details from the book.

Glerk, Arana, Luna, and Antain all find a sense of healing and purpose through the arts.  In the book, how does the act of creating art (poetry, drawing, crafts)  makes a difference in these characters’ survival in the story?

Different kinds of birds play an important role throughout the story. What does this image represent in the story? What other animal could have represented these same ideas? Which is the more effective symbol?

Luna and Xan both have different colors associated with their magic.  What color is connected with Luna? With Xan? Why do these respective colors fit the two characters?

Other characters in the book refer to Ignatia as “the tiger.”  How does this image help define Ignatia’s character?

The Tower “cast its shadow everywhere” in the Protectorate. In what ways was the Tower casting a shadow over the Protectorate. What does the Tower symbolize in the story?

At the end of the book, why didn’t the author destroy Ignatia and the Grand Elder Gherland? Why did she decide instead of have these two villains waste away instead of staging a dramatic death?

Transformation is an important event in this book.  Make a list of the different kinds of transformation mentioned in the book. Do you see any connections to these various types of transformation? What do you think is the most significant transformation in the book? Explain your reason for selecting this special transformation.

Chapter Specific Questions:

What important plot information does the very short Chapter 1 set up for the reader?

In Chapter 2, the Grand Elder indicates that “it was important to give the populace a show.” In what ways is the Day of Sacrifice “a show?” Why would the Elders made a production out of delivering the baby to the woods instead of quietly leaving the child behind without an audience to watch the proceedings?

Contrast the life of the Protectorate to that of the Elders.  How did the Elders achieve so much power over the people?

Antain has “big ideas,” “grand notions,” and “questions.”  Why would his uncle, the Grand Elder,” be unhappy that his nephew is a deep thinker?

The Elders are amazed at the baby’s mother’s display of anger and defiance about the taking of her child.  They have never experienced a parent fighting for the sacrificial baby. Why would other parents not fight the Elders who took their children for the Day of Sacrifice? What does this say about the Protectorate as a people?

The Grand Elder says that the Witch, not the Elders, is taking the baby.  Do you believe this statement? What clues in this chapter support your opinion?

What is the significance of the birthmark on the baby’s forehead?

What information does the reader find out about the Elder’s real opinion of the Witch in the woods? What does this indicate about their leadership? About their integrity? How is Antain at odds with his uncle and the Elders? What does this indicate about Antain’s character?

How would you describe the relationship between Xan and Glerk in Chapter 3? What does the reader learn about their characters in this introduction?

In this chapter Glerk mentions that “something has shifted” and that he has recently been having troubling dreams.  What do these statements contribute to the mood of this chapter?

What does the reader find out about Xan’s role in the Day of Sacrifice in this chapter?  How does this contrast to the Elders’ opinion in Chapter 2? What do the preparations that she makes for the baby tell you about this character?

The Free Cities treat Xan’s arrival each year as a holiday.  Why do they celebrate her annual visit?

Why does Xan make a series of detours on her way to the Free Cities with the most recent baby rescued from the woods?

In this book, how is the power of moonlight different from starlight? What discovery does Xan make after she finishes feeding the baby?

Why does Xan decide to name the baby Luna?

“Magical children were dangerous” – why does Xan believe this statement?  If this is the case, why does Xan decide to bring Luna to her home instead of delivering her to the Free Cities?

Describe Fyrian’s personality and size, based on information from Chapter 5. How is Fyrian different from traditional dragons found in fairy tales and mythology?

The Perfectly Tiny Dragon’s mother predicted before her death, “When the time is right, my son, you will know your purpose. You are, and will be again upon this fair earth. Never forget it.” What does this passage signal to the reader about Fyrian?

What does toddler Luna do that finally wins Glerk over? What is Xan’s reaction to Glerk’s  new awareness?

Luna’s magic is often described in terms of water, like waves rushing under her skin. What does this metaphor add to the reader’s understanding of the baby’s magic?

In Chapter 6, Antain demonstrates that he is totally unsuited for his position in the Council.  How does his job affect his emotional well-being? Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t fit in? Can you relate to any of Antain’s feelings or behaviors in this chapter?

In this chapter, the reader learns that “it is always cloudy in the Protectorate.” What would it be like to live in a world that was always enveloped in fog?

Why does Antain feel responsible for the madwoman in the tower? His memory of the woman on the Day of Sacrifice “pierced Antain every day, a great needle in his soul.” How does this simile affect the reader’s understanding of Antain’s state of mind?

The Elders have misgivings about Antain’s ability to do his job and mutter that “the boy will have to be dealt with.”  What are the Elders planning to do to Antain?

In Chapter 7, how would you describe Luna’s character as a 5 year old? If Luna were your little sister, would you enjoy have her as part of your family? Explain your answer.

To keep Luna under control on the trip to the Free Cities, Xan for the first time in her life interferes with the will of another person by using her magic. How did this decision affect Xan? How did she rationalize using her magic in this way?

Explain the sentence, “Memory was a slippery thing – and it was ever so easy to lose one’s footing and fall.”

In Chapter 8, the speaker tells the story of the wizard’s sacrifice to stop the volcano’s destruction and says, “Bravery makes nothing., protects nothing, results in nothing. It only makes you dead. And that is why we don’t stand up to the Witch.”  Do you agree with the assessment of the power of bravery? Explain your answer with examples from your own experience or from stories of other’s bravery.

In Chapter 9, what is the effect of Luna’s growing magic on Xan? Give examples from this chapter to back up your opinion.

Xan indicates that she and Glerk have forgotten important events from the past because of sorrow.  How did they cope with the sadness of those events? Why does Xan say that she needs to remember things, even it if makes her sad? Why are even sad memories an important part of life?

What does Xan discover at the ruins of the Enchanted Castle? Why is she determined to find the castle and try to remember what she has forgotten?

In Chapter 11, Xan proposes to keep Luna from using her magic until she turns thirteen years old, so that she and Glerk will have time to  educate the child about science, math, poetry, the laws of cause and effect, compassion, curiosity, and awe. Why is education important? Why is Xan going to teach Luna emotional and as as academic lessons? What effect will this plan ultimately have on Xan? What is her response to this realization?

In Chapter 13, the reader learns that the Sisters of the Star always dismissed their apprentice when he became aware of how much learning there was in the Tower’s libraries. Why would the Sisters see knowledge as a dangerous thing? What was Antain’s attitude towards learning and libraries? How did this ultimately cause a problem for him?

What characteristics would you include in a description of Sister Ignatia in her interchange with Antain in the Tower?

Sister Ignatia tells Anain that “there is no cure for sorrow” and is thrilled to make that announcement. Why would Sister Ignatia be happy to believe this statement? Does Antain agree with her?

Why does Antain want to see the madwoman who is being kept for study in the Tower? Why does Sister Ignatia grant his request to visit the woman?

How does Antain react  when he sees all of the paper birds in the madwoman’s cell? What is the effect on the reader to learn that all of the birds were facing Antain?

The madwoman repeats the phrase, “she is here,” on all of the maps she has created in the room.  What are the two meanings of this phrase?

Do you think the madwoman causes the birds to attack Antain, or do the birds act on their own? Explain your opinion, based on information in this chapter.

In Chapter 14, like Xan and Glerk, Luna has also lost some important memories. What is the effect of this loss on Luna’s behavior and personality?

What is the major consequence of Xan’s spell to keep Luna’s magic contained until she is thirteen? How does this disrupt Xan’s plans to educate Luna about magic?

Chapter 15 begins with Antain resigning  as Elder-in-Training and becoming a carpenter. The people say, “Such a pity it was. What a great and terrible pity.” What examples from this chapter would prove this statement wrong? Share a time when something good resulted from a bad experience that you had.

Think of three adjectives that describe Antain’s mother, based on information in this chapter.  Why did you select these particular words?

Antain reveals to the reader that he sees the madwoman in his dreams every night. What is the significance of these recurring dreams?

What does Ethyne’s decision to leave the Sisterhood say about this young woman’s character? What does she mean when she says to Sister Ignatia, “Thank you, Sister, for everything. I am ever so much more than I was when I walked in through that door.”

At the end of the chapter, Ethyne touches Antain’s arm, and he feels like a bird, “flying high over the forest, and skimming the top of the sky.”  What does the image of the bird represent in this closing passage?

In Chapter 16, the madwoman struggles with her loss of memory of her name, events, and knowledge of herself, able only to remember the touch of paper.  Why is paper so important to her, bringing her only sense of reality?

The madwoman draws map after map which she releases with the paper birds. What location is she drawing on these maps?

When the madwoman needs paper, she simply reaches “through the gaps of the world, pulling out leaf after leaf.” How is she able to generate all the paper she wants? To what other characters in the story does this power connect?

At the end of the chapter, the madwoman experiences a transformation from an existence totally consumed by sorrow to a feeling of hope. Read this passage carefully and then describe what causes this new sensation.  Why does the Head Sister cry out in pain (last sentence of the chapter)?

At the beginning of Chapter 17, Luna is now eleven. She is having a terrible headache and hears a clicking, sensing “each click brings me closer to the close.” What is the close that Luna is approaching? How does this event tie to her headache and general discontent?

The first lie that Luna ever tells is to Fyrian when she says, “I’m just thinking about how much I love my family.” Why did she make up this story for the tiny dragon? What is she trying to hide from her friend?

As Xan returns back home from the Free Cities in Chapter 18, she reveals that the pain that she endures as she ages towards death is for Luna. “Everything, everything is for Luna.” Why does Xan feel this way towards the young girl?

When Xan regards the Protectorate’s town from afar, she feels guilty for refusing to help the people in the town, enveloped in their sorrow cloud.  Why does Xan tend to the people in the Free Cities, but not the Protectorate? What memory does her vision of the town in fog prompt? What information does the reader have that Xan does not at this point in the book?

What enables the madwoman to know impossible things? What impossible thing had she discovered about the Head Sister? How did she learn to protect herself?  Had she always had these special gifts?

Regarding from the Tower the latest family who had lost their baby on the Day of Sacrifice, the madwoman thinks that the family, looking in horror into the woods where their child is being carried, is looking the wrong way. What does the madwoman mean in this statement?

The Grand Elder muses on the loss of Antain as Elder in Training and realizes that “the Council felt empty with Antain gone.” Since Antain was always in trouble with the Elders and asking questions for which the Grand Elder didn’t have answers, why would his uncle keenly feel his absence?

For the first time in the history of the Protectorate, Antain dares to question time-honored beliefs about the Witch and the Day of Sacrifice? What causes Antain to raise these questions?

What misunderstanding does Xan make about Antain as she rescues the baby in the clearing? How could she have handled the situation another way? How would this have affected the plot of the story?

Why did the madwoman feel the freedom of a thousand birds soaring when Antain opened the folder paper falcon?

In Chapter 19, turning twelve brings difficulties for Luna. Describe the changes she is experiencing with this birthday. Why was Luna not able to read the titles and the content of a number of books in Xan’s workshop?

Read the passage about Luna’s desire to draw all the time. What connection does the author make between Luna and another character in the book? In what ways are these two characters alike?

As Luna accompanies her grandmother to the Free Cities again, she notices how frail her grandmother has become. How does Luna deal with this situation? Why are the Free Cities citizens responsive to Luna’s requests?

How does the Star Children’s conversation about their early memories affect Luna? When she joins in to share a memory, how does Xan react? Why does Luna decide to hold on to this memory, even though Xan scoffs at her?

Luna begins to have more frequent memories of her mother, and yet she and Xan do not discuss this or any other kind of memory.  The secrets that they began to keep from each other seemed “like a stone hung around the necks of both grandmother and girl. Their backs bent under the weight of secrets.” Did their backs really break from not speaking of these memories? What kind of picture do these sentences create in the reader’s mind? How does this metaphor of the heavy stone add meaning to their situation?

In Chapter 21, Fyrian has a very bad dream.  What parts of his dream predict events that actually happen as the plot develops? Why do you think the author includes so many details in Fyrian’s dream?

Xan says to Fyrian when they were both young, “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.” List some wonderful things  that are invisible and powerful in this story. Give examples of how characters believe in these things, even if they can’t see them.

Why do the black boots give Luna a powerful headache when she tries to examine them?

In Chapter 23, 12 year-old Luna feels “as though every single thing on her body had suddenly conspired to alter itself – even her voice had turned traitorous.” What is happening to Luna? Is this normal behavior?

Luna also finds herself in the top of a tall tree and listening to a talking squirrel.  What other event is beginning to happen to Luna?

What is the significance of the crow that Luna discovers and begins to follow and communicate with her? What does her new bird friend symbolize? How does the crow similar to  other bird images throughout the story? How is this bird different from the others?

Luna and Fyrian climb high on the volcano’s cinder cone, so that Luna can sketch. She sees an immense forest without end that her grandmother never let her explore. Why did Xan keep Luna from exploring this part of the forest?

When Luna begins to draw, she becomes aware of lands that she has never seen and becomes lost in the experience. What is happening to Luna during this sketching session? What is the significance of her eyes turning into two pale moons while she is drawing?

Why do Luna and Xan continue to lie to each other instead of speaking honestly about the changes that they see happening in each other. What does the comparison of their lies to “broken glass” indicate to the reader?

At the end of Chapter 23, Luna reveals a map she has drawn of territory that she has never visited before – the circle of trees, the Protectorate, the Tower with the words “she is here.” How was Luna able to draw this map in such detail? Why does she “press these words next to her heart?”

At the beginning of Chapter 24, Ethyne says that “Hope is those first tiny buds that form at the every end of winter.” Explain what this metaphor means.  How is this sentence descriptive of the role hope plays in the book at this point in the story?

More lies – why does Antain lie to his uncle when he tell the Grand Elder that he wants to thank the Elders for giving him the chance to be an Elder in training? What does he hope to gain from this lie? Is it OK to lie when the falsehood leads to a positive outcome? Defend your opinion.

When Antain tells the Elders that he has seen the Witch in the woods, why do they all protest that this was not possible? Why is Antain shaking their faith in the world they have created?

Antain stands up to the Elders when no one has ever done this before. What does his behavior tell the reader about Antain’s character? Is Antain someone you would choose to be your friend? Explain your answer.

In Chapter 25 a powerful headache wakes Luna up in the middle of the night. Why are the headaches getting stronger each day?

From her bed in the cottage,  Luna suddenly finds herself at the standing stones in the middle of the forest. In a very dramatic scene, Luna explores the magicians’ workshop and discovers a new word in the process.  What is this word? What is the result of Luna learning this word?

In Chapter 26, the madwoman in the Tower fears that she might never be healed. Based on events so far, do you agree or disagree with this statement?  Support your answer with details from the story.

Why are the Grand Elder and Sister Ignatia concerned about the Protectorate getting ideas? Why do these characters see danger in this behavior?

What decision does the Head Sister make at the end of Chapter 26? Do you believe her when she says that “he will not know what hit him?”

Chapter 27 finds Luna in the magician’s workshop in the stone castle. The magicians’ papers have begun to talk to her, assuring her that magic is worthy of study. In this chapter what parallels does the reader find between Xan and Luna? Between Zosimos and Xan?

At the beginning of Chapter 28, a fading Xan makes preparations to pick up the baby left on the Day of Sacrifice. She vows to write an explanation to Luna of her protection from magic, saying that “some things were easier said on paper, anyway.” Do you agree with this statement? Are some things easier to write about than to say face to face? Defend your answer, based on personal experience.

When Xan transforms into a sparrow, she feels “as light as paper.” What connection does the reader see between Xan in this scene and the madwoman’s paper birds?

This chapter finds the madwoman, the Head Sister, Xan, Luna, Glerk, Fyrian and Antain all heading into the woods. Do these very different characters have anything in common as they journey to the same place in the woods?

Chapter 29 is devoted to a description of the volcano that simmers underground, waiting to erupt. What power does the volcano have in this world?  What does the volcano symbolize in this story?

In Chapter 31, the madwoman and the paper birds follow the map to Luna’s home in the swamp. What important revelation does the madwoman have as she explores the home?

At the beginning of Chapter 32, Luna recovers from her fall and finds that her injuries disappear with each step she takes in her journey to find Xan.  She doesn’t see that her footsteps each become a garden in riotous bloom. What does this transformation of footsteps signify in the story?

Xan, transformed as a swallow and lost in the woods, is fuzzy, confused, and aware that she is dying. Hearing her beloved Glerk’s voice causes Xan to suddenly know herself and her purpose.  Describe a time in your own experience where someone’s voice became an instrument of healing for you.

In Chapter 33 the reader learns that instead of rescuing the people from the volcano as intended by the scholar magicians, the Sorrow Eater uses the Seven League Boots to gather them up in the Protectorate.  Even though she saves the people from death, how is this act really a poisonous plan? How does this act enable the Sorrow Eater to live and thrive?

Ethyne questions the Grand Elder about Sister Ignatia in Chapter 34, and Antain’s uncle muses that having Ethyne locked in the Tower was preferable to questioning at family dinners. Why does the Grand Elder dislike being questioned?

Ethyne asked the two Sisters of the Star who are serving as protection for the Grand Elder, “Does the tiger prowl?” This phrase is code for what real piece of information that Ethyne wants to know?

Where does Ethyne get the power to stand up to the Grand Elder? What is the effect on the Grand Elder of her rage for letting the Head Sister go into the woods to kill Antain?

The Sorrow Eater and Luna confront each other in the woods while the paper birds hover near the girl. When  the Head Sister is able to bend the space around Luna to her control, how is the young girl able to best the more powerful Head Sister in this scene?

In Chapter 35, Fyrian asks Glerk as they walk through the woods if dragons shed their skins? How does this question foreshadow changes that are about to happen?

Describe the scrying device that the Sorrow Eater uses in the woods? How does she react when she sees the remnants of the stone castle as the location for the Seven League Boots? How do we know that home is a powerful image even for this evil Witch?

The Witch thinks, “What’s mine is mine. And that’s everything.” What does this sentence tell you about this character? What is she willing to do to retrieve what belongs to her?

Chapter 36 contains a lengthy passage where important memories come flooding back to Luna. The word witch holds particular meaning for the girl. What associations does she have with this word? How is she empowered by the knowledge this memory brings?

Luna sees her grandmother in the form of a swallow, but she doesn’t understand that this bird is Xan transformed. Name some other examples in the book when things are not what they appear to be.

In Chapter 37, even as a swallow, Xan cares for the burdened Antain, encouraging him to talk. Through his story and the pain of his memory, Xan receives a revelation about her own  role in the Day of Sacrifice. What were the consequences of her years of saving babies and bringing them to the Free Cities? How does she react to this revelation?`

Ethyne realizes in Chapter 38, “A story can tell the truth, but a story can also lie. Controlling stories is power indeed.” What story does Ethyne have a revelation about? What truth does she discover in the story? Until this revelation, who has been controlling the story and for what purpose?

Ethyne says to Wyn, “The Tower is meant to be a center for learning, not a tool of tyranny.” What changes does she bring to the Tower, now that the Head Sister is no longer around?

With the fog of sorrow lifting, the mothers who had lost children began to have visions of what had happened to their Star Children. What was the effect of these visions on the mothers? What was the effect of the mothers on the clouds of sorrow?

Chapter 39 finds Fyrian changing from a Perfectly Tiny creature into quite a large and mature dragon. Glerk says that he doesn’t understand why this change is taking place. Why do you think Fyrian begins to grow at this point in the story? What clues lead you to this conclusion?

In Chapter 40, Sister Ignatia and the madwoman confront each other over the magic boots. The madwoman tells the Head Sister that “the impossible is possible.” Give some examples from the madwoman’s experience that support this statement.

At the end of Chapter 42, when Luna, Antain, the madwoman, and Xan all meet in the woods, the last four lines make a little poem:

The man leaped.

The girl leaped.

The madwoman leaped.

And the world was full of birds.

How would you interpret this poem? What is happening in these lines? What feeling does the line, “And the world was full of birds,” create in the reader?

Chapter 43 is full of revelations.  What does the reader discover about Luna? About the madwoman? About Xan?

In Chapter 45, how is the Sorrow Eater finally defeated? Why does Glerk hold Fyrian back from destroying her? What transformation in this once powerful person takes place as the other characters watch?

In Chapter 46,  Xan, Luna, and the madwoman work together to protect the people from the volcano’s destruction. What do they do to shield the Protectorate?

In the aftermath of the volcano’s eruption, what changes take place in the Protectorate?

Ethyne tells the Grand Elder that he needs to apologize for healing to take place. What is the Grand Elder’s reaction? What is the consequence of his decision?

In Chapter 47, Glerk comes to Xan in the Tower to take her with him to the Bog. He leaves behind a poem on a piece of paper tucked under Xan’s pillow. What do you think is the main message of the poem? What lines or images in the poem support this message?

The world described in the final chapter is very different from the one depicted in the first chapter in the book, and yet they begin with the same sentences: “Yes. There is a witch in the woods.” How has the meaning of those words changed over the course of the book?

Book Talk Teasers:

View The Girls Who Drank the Moon book trailer, found on the Texas Bluebonnet Award YouTube channel. What elements in the book trailer encourage a student to read this book?

Present the readers theater.  At the conclusion of the presentation, ask the students what they think will happen next in the story.

Examine an image of the book cover?  What questions does the student have about the book from looking at the cover illustration?  Encourage students to check out the book to discover the answers to their questions.

Read pp. 12-13 (beginning with “And one by one, the Elders filed out, leaving the baby behind” though “They were wrong, of course.”  Ask students what they think will happen to the baby.

Read Alikes:

Fantasy fiction and witches

Baker, E. D. The frog princess. After reluctantly kissing a frog, an awkward, fourteen-year-old princess suddenly finds herself a frog, too, and sets off with the prince to seek the means–and the self-confidence–to become human again. (NoveList Plus)

Barnhill, Kelly Regan. The witch’s boy. When a Bandit King comes to take the magic that Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, the stuttering, weak boy villagers think should have drowned rather than his twin summons the strength to protect his family and community, while in the woods, the bandit’s daughter puzzles over a mystery that ties her to Ned. (NoveList Plus)

Connolly, MarcyKate. Ravenous. When her little brother, Hans, is captured by a witch, Greta agrees to help retrieve a coveted relic for the witch in exchange for Hans’ freedom and teams up with new centaur friend Dalen on a journey in which she works to overcome foes and personal vulnerabilities. (NoveList Plus)

Lewis, C. S. The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe; a story for children. Four English school children find their way through the back of a wardrobe into the magic land of Narnia and assist Aslan, the golden lion, to triumph over the White Witch, who has cursed the land with eternal winter. (NoveList Plus)

Pearson, Ridley. The kingdom keepers. Finn Whitman, an Orlando teen, is hired to be hologramed as a Disney World park “guide” but soon finds himself being transported into the Magic Kingdom in the dead of night to help fight a group of Disney villains, led by Maleficent, who want to take over Disney World–and maybe more. (NoveList Plus)

Segel, Jason. Nightmares! Twelve-year-old Charlie and his friends must stop nightmares from taking over their town before it’s too late. (NoveList Plus)

Stephens, John. The emerald atlas. Ten years ago, siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma were taken from their parents’ home and have lived in orphanage after orphanage ever since. Newly arrived at their latest abode, they find an enchanted old atlas that transports them back in time…and into the clutches of an evil countess who’s seeking the book that they’ve found. (NoveList Plus)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Fantasy fiction and magic

Bell, Hilari. The goblin wood. A young Hedgewitch, an idealistic knight, and an army of clever goblins fight against the ruling hierarchy that is trying to rid the land of all magical creatures. (NoveList Plus)

Blackwood, Sage. Jinx. A young boy named Jinx encounters magic and danger as he grows up in the deep, dark forest known as the Urwald and discovers that the world beyond–and within–the Urwald is more complex than he could imagine. (NoveList Plus)

Carman, Patrick. The dark hills divide. When she finds the key to a secret passageway leading out of the walled city of Bridewell, twelve-year-old Alexa realizes her lifelong wish to explore the mysterious forests and mountains that lie beyond the wall. (NoveList Plus)

Forward, Toby. Fireborn. When an old, dying wizard steals magic from his twelve-year-old apprentice, Bee, and releases a new, wild magic into the world, another apprentice, Cabbage, sets out to find Bee and try to set things right again. (NoveList Plus)

Mull, Brandon. Fablehaven. When Kendra and Seth go to stay at their grandparents’
estate, they discover that it is a sanctuary for magical creatures and that a battle between good and evil is looming. (NoveList Plus)

White, J. A. A path begins. Shunned by villagers who convicted her mother of witchcraft years earlier, Kara is lured by an unusual bird into a forbidden magical forest where she discovers a strange book of unspeakable power that may have belonged to her mother. (NoveList Plus)

Fairy tale and folklore-inspired fiction and magic/witches

Buckley, Michael. The fairy-tale detectives. Taken out of foster care by a woman who claims to be their grandmother, orphans Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are whisked away to Ferryport Landing, New York. There they learn that their ancestors, the famous Brothers Grimm, wrote not make-believe stories, but the history of the Everafters — fairy-tale characters like Jack-the-giant-killer and the Three Little Pigs. Now the Everafters live in Ferryport, where they’ve been watched by the Grimm family for generations…and some of them need to be watched closely indeed, (NoveList Plus)

Colfer, Chris. The enchantress returns. Against the will of their grandmother, twins Alex and Conner must find their own way into the Land of Stories to rescue their mother and save the fairy tale world from the greatest threat it has ever faced–the return of the Enchantress who cursed Sleeping Beauty. (NoveList Plus)

Hale, Shannon. Once upon a time: a story collection. A new chapter is about to begin at Ever After High, and all students are preparing to return to school and start their Legacy Year, when they will commit to living out their fairytale destinies, repeating the famous stories of their parents. (NoveList Plus)

Healey, Christopher. The heroes’ guide to saving the kingdom. The four princes erroneously dubbed Prince Charming and rudely marginalized in their respective fairy tales form an unlikely team when a witch threatens the whole kingdom. (NoveList Plus)

Lin, Grace. When the sea turned to silver. When her grandmother is kidnapped, Pinmei, accompanied by her friend Yishan, embarks on a search for the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night, which she intends to give the cruel Tiger Emperor in exchange for her grandmother. (NoveList Plus)

Mlynowski, Sarah. Fairest of all. After moving to a new house, ten-year-old Abby and her younger brother Jonah discover an antique mirror that transports them into the Snow White fairy tale. (NoveList Plus)

Shulman, Polly. The Grimm legacy.  New York high school student Elizabeth gets an after-school job as a page at the “New-York Circulating Material Repository,” and when she gains coveted access to its Grimm Collection of magical objects, she and the other pages are drawn into a series of frightening adventures involving mythical creatures and stolen goods. (NoveList Plus)

Shurtliff, Liesl. Rump: the true story of Rumpelstiltskin. Relates the tale of Rumpelstiltskin’s childhood and youth, explaining why his name is so important, how he is able to spin straw into gold, and why a first-born child is his reward for helping the miller’s daughter-turned-queen. (NoveList Plus)

Ursu, Anne. Breadcrumbs. Hazel and Jack are best friends until an accident with a magical mirror and a run-in with a villainous queen find Hazel on her own, entering an enchanted wood in the hopes of saving Jack’s life. (NoveList Plus)

Book Reviews:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books starred, 09/01/16

Barnhill, Kelly The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Algonquin, 2016 [400p]
ISBN 978-1-61620-567-6 $16.95
Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 5-8

The people of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest as an annual sacrifice to appease a wrathful witch. The witch Xan, not actually wrathful and mighty confused by the squalling children she finds yearly in the woods, takes the babes to the New Cities, where she places them with loving families. Little Luna is different, however: Xan takes the girl home to raise herself after she accidentally “enmagicks” Luna with moonlight. Growing up with a tiny, mischievous dragon for a friend, a sage old swamp monster for a father figure, and a witty, loving old woman for a grandmother makes for a delightful childhood, but as Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches she yearns to see the world outside her tiny makeshift family. She’s unaware, however, that her shift into adolescence will bring alive the dormant magic within her while simultaneously draining Xan’s power and her life. Meanwhile, the mother from whom Luna was taken, the man involved with the taking, and the real witch, the reason for the taking, converge with a dying Xan as she makes her last trip to save a Protectorate baby. 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 (BCCB 1/15) and Iron Hearted Violet (BCCB 12/12) will find similar intersections of love, loss, and identity here. KQG.  (September 2016).  Used with the permission of Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books.

Horn Book

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.   Intermediate, Middle School Algonquin 388 pp.   8/16  978-1-61620-567-6  $16.95

Every year, the people of the Protectorate steel themselves for the Day of Sacrifice, when the elders take the city’s youngest baby and leave it in the woods to appease the witch—a witch no one has seen, but whose reputation has become a means to control the populace. In fact, a witch does live in the forest, and she rescues and finds homes for the babies; she even adopts one, the particularly magical Luna, whom she brings home to live with her own family that already includes a beloved bog monster and a dragon. Meanwhile, the true and malevolent Witch of Sacrifice Day, hiding behind the identity of a respected person in the city, secretly feeds off the grief of the bereaved parents until, thanks to adolescent Luna’s emerging magic, the sorrow-burdened Protectorate begins to rebel. Barnhill’s fantasy has a slightly ungainly plot, with backstory, coincidence, insight-dumps, and shifting points of view maneuvering its hinges of logic into place. But in theme and emotion, it is focused: love—familial, maternal, filial, and friendly—is its engine and moral, with Luna’s connections with her adoptive grandmother and unknown birth mother a poignant force. With all story elements and characters interrelated through “infinite love” (the story’s theology), there’s plenty for readers to puzzle out here. DEIRDRE F. BAKER.   From the September/October 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.  Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine by permission of The Horn Book, Inc.,

School Library Journal

BARNHILL, Kelly. The Girl Who Drank the Moon. 400p. Algonquin. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781616205676.

[Starred] Gr 4-6 –Once a year in the Protectorate there is a Day of Sacrifice. The youngest baby is taken by the Elders and left in the forest to die, thus appeasing the witch who threatens to destroy the village if not obeyed. Unbeknownst to the people, Xan, the witch of the forest, is kind and compassionate. When she discovers the first baby left as a sacrifice, she has no idea why it has been abandoned. She rescues the infants, feeds each one starlight, and delivers the shining infants to parents in the Outside Cities who love and care for them. On one occasion, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight along with starlight, filling her with glowing magic. Xan is smitten with the beautiful baby girl, who has a crescent moon birthmark on her forehead, and chooses to raise her as her own child. Twists and turns emerge as the identity of the true evil witch becomes apparent. The swiftly paced, highly imaginative plot draws a myriad of threads together to form a web of characters, magic, and integrated lives. Spiritual overtones encompass much of the storytelling with love as the glue that holds it all together. VERDICT An expertly woven and enchanting offering for readers who love classic fairy tales.–D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH.  Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal,  Copyright 2016.