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You Saw Me Standing Alone

A witch, a foundling, a dragon, a madwoman, and a swamp monster walk into the woods... Meet The Girl Who Drank the Moon in Kelly Barnhill's Newbery Award-winning book.

You Saw Me Standing Alone

BOOK REPORT for The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Cover Story: Like a Big Pizza Pie
Drinking Buddy: In Other Words, Hold My Hand
Testosterone Estrogen Level: I Hope Our Legs Don't Break
Talky Talk: I Hear the Voice of Rage and Ruin
Bonus Factor: Real Witches
Bromance Status: See You On the Dark Side

Cover Story: Like a Big Pizza Pie

A sweet picture of Luna and her friend, Fyrian the dragon. The cutesy cover kind of belays some of the more serious topics of the book, however. No lighthearted fairytale, this.

The Deal:

The citizens of the Protectorate know that there is an evil witch in the woods. She demands the sacrifice of an infant every year. They leave the child in the woods for her to take. If they should fail, there's no telling what horrible thing she might do to them.

The citizens, however, don't know two things. One: there is no witch. This is all a ploy by the elders to keep the population under control. They merely leave the babies to be devoured by wild animals, while sewing fear and panic among the people.

Two: Actually, there is a witch in the woods. Her name is Xan and she's hundreds of  years old. She lives in a tree with her friends Fyrian the tiny dragon, and Glerk, the swamp monster and poet. She has no idea why people keep leaving babies out in the woods, but she always rescues them, feeds them, and takes them to new homes in the free cities, where she's welcomed as a healer and friend.

But one day she finds a special young girl. One who tugs at her heart. And instead of feeding this baby off starlight, she 'accidentally' feeds her moonlight. And a child fed on moonlight will grow up to be special. Unique. Magic.

Drinking Buddy: In Other Words, Hold My Hand

This is one of those books where you love the protagonists and hate the villains. There is no middle ground. Apart from the above mentioned heroes, there's Antain, the elder in training, who's not totally on board with the 'leaving infants in the forest' thing.

Then there's the council of the elders, who are in charge of the baby project and are about what you'd expect. And there's the Sisters of the Tower, ninja nuns who are experts in all disciplines (especially combat) and who rule the town with an iron fist.

Fun times.

Testosterone Estrogen Level: I Hope Our Legs Don't Break

A true girl power book. Antain, Fyrian and Glerk are all good, decent beings, but the women really steal the show here. Xan has been around the world a few times, but worries that Luna will become too powerful with magic before she can control it. Luna is precocious, but doesn't fully comprehend the power the moon gave her. There's Sister Ignatia, head of the convent, who knows how to keep people in line. Ethyne, a local woman who's not about to send her baby son off to the woods, at least not without offering a fight to the death and some nice herbal tea. And the madwoman, locked in the tower, creating paper birds out of the air and wondering about her dreams of a dark haired girl, taken from her years ago.

Talky Talk: I Hear the Voice of Rage and Ruin

This book was a nice combo of middle-grade adventure and more serious topics. Fyrian and Glerk bicker like a couple of brothers, Xan wavers between a kind old grandmother and a witch with the power to blast a city off the map. Antain, who suffers a terrible injury halfway through the book, is torn between a desire to live a normal life and to face the dark things he learned about the Elders and the Sisters of the Tower. Luna, who doesn't totally understand that her upbringing is not exactly normal, flips between pre-teen angst and genuine concern for her friends, both human and magical.

The book does hit on some serious issues: sexism, classism, and the treatment of the mentally ill. Nothing overt, but good for getting older kids to think.

This was a nice, quick read, appropriate for mature kids and immature adults.

Bonus Factor: Real Witches

They say the real witches were just regular women, who knew more than everyone else about botany, physiology, childbirth, and nature. While Xan and Luna are more than that, there's something to be said for the original definition.

Bromance Status: See You On the Dark Side

Yet another book about a cool group of friends I'd love to run with. I'd have no problem being the comedy sidekick to this group of women.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor magic herbs for writing this review.

 

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.