The Girl Who Drank the Moon

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The Girl Who Drank the Moon

By: Kelly Barnhill
Published: 2016
# of pages:  400
Challenges:  A to Z, Full House (coming of age)

Goodreads description:

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 them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule–but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her–even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.

My opinion:  This was such a great, fun book to read!  It’s a children’s book that I think would be great starting around 4th or 5th grade.  It’s a great fantasy/fairy tale with good characters, evil characters, fantastic creatures such as a dragon and swamp monster, and an intriguing setting of a sorrowful town, large cities, and a dense forest with a bog and restless volcano.

The story follows Xan, a gentle witch who lives in the forest and rescues the children the sorrowful town abandons.  One year Xan rescues a baby and starts to fall in love with her on the journey to the cities.  She ends up feeding the baby moonlight instead of starlight, which fills the baby with magic.  So Xan decides to keep the baby and names her Luna.

Luna grows up surrounded by love in her forest cabin, but unfortunately the town she leaves behind isn’t so lucky.  Years pass as the reader sees what happens to Xan and Luna and also the slow changes that take place in the town.  Everything builds up and Luna needs to take action before it all explodes.

I appreciated the way the author wrote this book to be entertaining but also thought provoking.  It would be easy for kids to read, but it doesn’t “talk down” to them.  It’s beautifully written and children and adults alike can appreciate the descriptions.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Beautifully written story with a great message.  Appeals to both children and adults.  Realistic characters.  A little too wordy at times for my personal tastes.

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

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The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

By:  Janet Fox
Published: 
2016
# of pages: 
388
Challenge: 
R.I.P.

3Stars

Goodreads description:

Something is not right at Rookskill Castle, a rundown Scottish manor shrouded in mystery. The castle is a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz, but soon it’s clear there is something terribly wrong. There are clues hinting that a spy is in the house, and there are undeniable signs of a sinister magic. When the children in the castle’s temporary boarding school begin disappearing one by one, it’s a race against the clock for twelve-year-old Kat Bateson, her two younger siblings, and their new best friend.

My opinion:  This book’s title immediately intrigued me and is the reason why I added it to my TBR list last year!  I don’t typically read modern children’s literature, but I think it’s good to read some every once in awhile, especially since my oldest is 8 and will begin reading longer chapter books in the next couple of years.

This story follows a 12 year old girl named Kat who, along with her younger brother and sister, go to stay at a newly opened boarding school in Scotland to escape the Blitz of London in WWII.  The boarding school is located in an old keep owned by a distant relative of Kat’s family.  Kat has a practical and logical personality, but soon has a hard time understanding what exactly is happening in Rookskill Castle.  However, the safety of the students depends upon her figuring out what is going on.

I was pleased by the way the entire story was rounded out and came together.  I feel like a lot of children’s lit doesn’t always make sense and the “dots” don’t always connect.  Authors tend to jump around and even contradict the narrative in order to make the story move the way they want.  However, the sequence of events and the main character’s thought patterns were consistent in this book.  Of course, this is a children’s novel and it is still written as such.  I didn’t connect with the characters and wasn’t drawn into the story.  I don’t think the average adult reader would really love this book, but I think it would be a great read for kids.  It’s somewhat creepy, but not too suspenseful or complicated.

Why I gave this book 3/5 stars:  Well written and unique story, didn’t capture my attention as an adult.  I recommend for kids between the ages of 10 and 14.

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book
By: Neil Gaiman

Challenge:  R.I.P. VII

Published:  2008

# of pages:  320

Quote:
“There were three of them there, then, and Amabella was introducing Bod and he was shaking hands and saying, ‘Charmed, I am sure,’ because he could greet people politely over nine hundred years of changing manners.”

“Really, he thought, if you couldn’t trust a poet to offer sensible advice, who could you trust?”

Official description: After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family . . . 
Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

My opinion:  It was weird going to the children’s section of the library to find this book.  I know that children’s literature includes kids in middle school, but it just seems weird that this is in the same genre as picture books.

When it comes to ages, I would let my 5th grader and older read this book.  It starts out with the murder of a boy’s family, which is pretty disturbing.  My heart ached thinking of the toddler boy wandering off on his own, even though it meant he was saved. I couldn’t help but think of my own little boys wandering out of the house at night.

The book isn’t all scary and intense though.  Most of it is pretty lighthearted, actually.  Bod is able to interact with all sorts of “people” from all sorts of time periods.  He learns to speak to adults and learn the truth about historic events from first hand sources.  I love how he was raised by everyone in a safe community, even if they were all ghosts.

The end of the book is definitely bittersweet.  Bod has so many adventures and meets so many people throughout the different chapters of the book.  The novel is a little disjointed at times, since some chapters almost seem like individual stories in themselves, but most of it ties together at the end.

I recommend this to children, young adults, and adults.  It isn’t scary, but the beginning is a little and there are intense parts.  It is supernatural, but it isn’t over the top or really serious.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Very unique story; interesting and likable characters; good “growing up” story about a boy who makes mistakes, but learns from them.

Other reviews:
Literary Musings
things mean a lot
Bold. Blue. Adventure.
Bookfoolery and Babble
You Can Never Have Too Many Books

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I’d be happy to post yours as well.

Baby Books

My mom buys Evan books for every holiday (so far). I love all of these books, especially now that he’s grown older and participates in reading time more. So I want to

share her choices…

Birth –

by: Sandra Magsamen
Christmas –

Valentine’s Day –

Peek-a-Boo, I Love You! by: Sandra Magsamen
Easter –

It’s hard to pick favorites, but probably Peek-a-Boo, I Love You is the most fun (Evan grins the entire time we read it to him) and my favorite illustrations are in Peter Rabbit: Show Me Your Ears. BEAUTIFUL illustrations!

Coraline

Coraline
by: Neil Gaiman

Challenge: The Eponymous Challenge

Published: 2002

# of pages: 162

Quote: “On the first day Coraline’s family moved in, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible made a point of telling Coraline how dangerous the well was, and they warned her to be sure she kept away from it. So Coraline set off to explore for it, so that she knew where it was, to keep away from it properly.” -p. 5

This is the second Gaiman book I’ve read so far and I wasn’t disappointed this time around either! I read Stardust back in June and loved it (and the movie!). I enjoyed this book in a different way. It’s a children’s book, but I thought it was a little dark and scary for kids. I actually found myself anxious and creeped out in some parts. I suppose I would have loved to read this in 4th-5th grade when I went through my ghost story phase, but I’m glad I didn’t read it as a younger child because it would have scared me too much!

Coraline is a fun and adventurous little girl. As you can tell by my quote from page 5, I immediately related to her and was hopelessly entangled in the story right away. Reading the book made me remember when I was a kid exploring the woods around our neighborhood with my brother. As a matter of fact, once a neighbor warned us that there was a deep gully behind his house so not to go back there because we might fall in and hurt ourselves. As soon as he went back in his house we rushed back to that part of the woods to find the gully we had never seen before and probably never would have discovered if not for his “warning.” I was definitely an explorer as a kid so Coraline’s entire experience was not only interesting as far as stories go, it was also interesting because of how it reminded me of my childhood.

The illustrations encouraged the creepy vibe of the book. They even scare me a little! As Coraline explores her new home and finds the door that ends up leading her to an alternate reality and her “other parents” and “other flat,” the pictures follow her adventure and get creepier and creepier as her surroundings become more sinister.

I liked Coraline’s character and loved the cat she meets! Although the story is dark and too scary for children under 10 years old (in my opinion), it is entertaining and can transport children, young adults, and adults into an adventure. So save this book for a rainy day and when your kid complains of being bored, let him/her read about Coraline’s rainy day adventure.

I was just reminded that this book is going to be a movie! I believe it’s animated and you can go to the website under the picture to make your own button eyed picture.

Ever

Ever by: Gail Carson Levine

Published: 2008

# of pages: 244

Ever is another unique fantasy written by Levine, who also wrote Ella Enchanted. I have to say though, I was disappointed in this book. I enjoyed Ella Enchanted and Fairest, but Ever felt rushed and incomplete. However, this book is placed in the juvenile section at the library and I believe the other books by her that I’ve read have been in the young adult section. So this book may have felt so sparse because it was written for children.

It is very basic. The sentences are brief and the dialogue is simple so it is easy for children to keep up with the story. However, it wasn’t enough for an adult reader to really enjoy. The story is interesting, so I wish it had been written for young adults or adults! So although I was frustrated at the dialogue and blunt writing style, I think it is great for children to read.

Levine’s other books are based off of fairy tales, but Ever is based off of myths. Olus is the god of the winds in Akka. He is only 17 years old, but he will live forever. Kezi is the daughter of a couple in Hyte who loves to dance and make rugs. Olus discovers Kezi as he travels the world looking for happiness. He encourages her to change her fate and she follows him to another land where she begins her adventure to become a heroine so she can ascend to the top of the rock where the gods reside.

I enjoyed the fact that the story revolves around mythology and recommend it for children (although there is some kissing in the book, but it is fairytale-like kissing if you know what I mean, not detailed or inappropriate) and even young adults. I also recommend it to adults if you enjoy Levine’s other books and don’t mind reading children’s/young adult books.