I had the great privilege of hearing Newbery author Kelly Barnhill speak at the Kids First Conference in Des Moines, Iowa this year. She spoke about how reading fairy tales changed her life, and I think reading hers will change mine.
This book is full of magic of many kinds. It is about magical characters, magical creatures, and the power of the magic that is in all of us. It is about a witch and her true friend a swamp monster and their "pet," a tiny dragon. It is also about a boy who sees something so powerful that it could change everything. It is about the love of a mother for her child, and the extent people will go to save each other from what they think is evil.
It's a complicated tale told in the most beautiful language I have read in a long time. I could not put it down, which was amazing and surprising, as I am not used to reading fairy tales any more. And although it's a children's book, The Girl Who Drank the Moon poses some fascinating questions about society and the world we live in today. Should we follow a rule or law simply because it seems to serve a purpose for the many? Is fear ever a necessary method of rule for a government? How do we go about questioning rules or government when it's difficult to do so? And of course, the most important question: Can we learn to use the magic for Good?" I surely hope we can. Perhaps fairy tales can teach us more than we think.