The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Anyone a fan of The Giver by Lois Lowry? If so, then I have a book recommendation from you.

This book won the 2017 Newbery Award and is about a girl who is given as an offering from her town to the witch in the wood. Why is she given up as an offering? Well, she was the first born child since the last offering. Why does the town offer the first born? To make the witch happy. What happens when they leave the child behind for offering? Well, no one knows for sure, but probably the child is eaten or starves to death or gets too cold. After all, no one has seen the witch. She’s just a story that is told.

But when this particular child is given the moon to drink, things change for the witch, and the town. A mother goes mad, a nephew is attacked by paper birds, and a girl keeps things hidden from her grandmother.

In the end, a mother and daughter are reunited, a town comes out from under the clouds of sorrow, and the truth about the witch is finally revealed.

Take a read for yourself and let me know what you think.

(Below you have my goodreads summary as well…)

The Girl Who Drank the MoonThe Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The book slightly reminded me of The Giver as the Protectorate follows some customs (leaving a baby as an offering) without anyone really understanding why. Then when a particular child is left one year, the reason behind the offering starts to be revealed to the reader.

The different story lines are intertwined with a story told in italics.

I think it would make kids wonder who is the good guy or the bad guy, and are they really that way or is it our perception that makes it so.

Well written and a different twist on a story makes it easy to see why Kelly won the Newbery for this novel.

View all my reviews

My Family for the War

Catch-up 2 of 2 …

This book won the Mildred J. Batchelder Award, which is awarded to an American publisher for a translated title. My Family for the War was originally written in German, and the original title was Liverpool Street.

This book I am putting under the section for “a book in translation”, though it could easily fall under “a book about a topic or subject you already love” as I enjoy fiction children/young adult novels that center around the Holocaust and Jews in hiding during that time. That topic became popular in my head after reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank in high school.

My Family for the WarMy Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One historical fiction topic I enjoy reading about are those of children during the Holocaust period. It started with ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’. I was looking for a book that had been translated into English for a reading challenge and seeing this on the Batchelder list of award-winning translated novels, my interest peaked and it was at the top of my ‘to-read’ list.

I imagine the struggle Ziska/Frances had as she grew to love her foster-family is one that many Jewish children experienced during WWII, but also one I think that children in foster families or who are adopted must feel also – that torn feeling of wanting to be loyal to their birth family, but also a new-found loyalty to their foster-family.

Never having gone through war time or being torn from my family, it is not something I can relate to personally, but I still admire those who go through those struggles and come out on top.

There were two passages, or words of advise, that stuck with me …

1) The first is from Ziska/Frances’ friend Professor Schueler when she tells him about her dead father and missing foster-father, and her regret of not working harder to bring her parents to a safer country. It is part of his advice in response to her parents sending her away – “Live! And live well!”

2) The second is in the second to last paragraph of the book as Ziska/Frances and her family remember the dead – “We belong to those who live with the dead. They depend on us. As long as I have a voice and as long as there is someone listening, I will name them, and tell our story.”


It seems I haven’t shared two books I’ve read for my yearly challenge, so this is catch-up 1 of 2 …

This book meets the category “a book published before you were born”. I actually have had this one my shelves at home for several years, but haven’t yet read it. My mother-in-law had it first I believe, and when I saw the title shared my name, it somehow became part of my shelves. And it fits the category as this book was published back in 1979 originally (my birth year, for the record, is 1983). Needless to say, I finally got around to reading it.

It was one of those classic girl feels out of water in her family but finds a way in the end to fit in and feel accepted type stories. I remember reading it though, that it probably could have used a few more edits before publishing, not because of spelling, but it didn’t flow right to me in some parts. Nonetheless, it is one I would read again, and knowing there’s a sequel, would read that as well.

Here’s my goodreads review for you as well…

StephanieStephanie by Joan Austen-Leigh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was first drawn to this title because it’s my name! Yet this book has sat on my shelves for several years without being read … until now.

Upon reading it, I found myself drawn to the main character. She doesn’t feel as though she belongs in the world she is growing up in and turns to books and writing as an escape. As she grows up, she needs to decide if she will live in the world of her childhood, or follow her childhood dreams.

I feel for her, as my original plan seemed to have changed from childhood dreams, and I almost feel as though I’m reinventing myself as I get older and find what makes me happy now.

It felt as though it was an early draft of the book, or at least in the early stages of a writer’s career, but nonetheless still enjoyable.

Brown Girl Dreaming

Continuing my reading plan for the year (check out the list and previous reads here: 2017 Reading Challenge) … the next box to be checked off is – a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection.

This also fits into the upper section as a genre I usually avoid as I don’t read much in the way of poetry, but I have another book in mind for that…

Anyways, below is my review as posted to goodreads, then I will share pieces from her book I enjoyed.


Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Poetry is not something I normally read, but having read some of Jacqueline Woodson’s picture books, specifically Each Kindness, I decided to give one of her non picture books a try. As well, it was something I’d been wanting to read since it was announced as a Coretta Scott King Award Winner.

I loved reading about Jacqueline’s history through her poetry. She made it feel like I was with her in South Carolina on her grandmother’s porch, or with her as she explored writing and school in New York. And she makes me want to try my hand at poetry.


My favorite poems or passages from the book …


“on paper”

Letters becoming words, words gathering meaning,


thoughts outside my head

becoming sentences



They’re just words, I whisper.

They’re not trying to hurt anybody!


“how to listen #7”

Even the silence

has a story to tell you.

Just listen. Listen.


“each world”

where You decide

what each world

and each story

and each ending

will finally be.

3 Books by Brian Selznick

One of the categories in the “Reading for Growth” of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 challenge is to read “three books by the same author”. I had previously read The Invention of Hugo Cabret and The Marvels and enjoyed both books immensly, so Brian immediately popped in my head as I knew he had written one more in a similar style. Upon researching what else he wrote, I saw that he wrote (and illustrated) two other books the public library had in circulation, so I checked them out. Below are the three books I read by him.

I think the things that strike me the most of interest is after reading his books are: 1) I love his pencil drawings. It’s amazing that such a simple tool can create such a cool drawing. 2) I’m a fan of his part picture, part words style of writing. Yes, picking up a 400+ page book seems a daunting read. But when you look closer and it feels that half those pages are pictures just when you thumb through the book? Doesn’t seem so daunting now. 3) This is probably something that would explain other picture books, but wow! A picture really does say a thousand words! As someone who works with kids, I’m finding myself drawn to books that are told with no words, only pictures. I think it takes talent to tell a story with just a picture, and Brian seems to take that to the next level with his style of telling a wordless story, a word story, and combining the two together in the end.

Without further ado, the books …

The Boy of a Thousand FacesThis one seemed like it could be on the scary end and not one I would normally go to (If you know me, you know I don’t do scary or horror – even in book form I avoid it). I think the only reason I read it was for this challenge. However, I liked the concept of the challenge the boy created for himself. Similar to a photo-a-day challenge, or a selfie-a-day challenge that I’ve seen.

The Houdini Box – If you aren’t familiar with Harry Houdini, he is a famous magician. This story is about a boy who is fascinated with magic and gets the chance to learn a secret from the master, but unfortunately receives a box instead. The boy leaves the box closed and forgets about magic. But by a small chance, years later, his former passion is revised and when he finally opens that box, a childhood answer was revealed.

Wonderstruck – This book features two characters who are deaf, trying to find where they belong, both ultimately finding the answer in New York City.

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

After being on my “to-read” list for over a year, I have finally read NeuroTribes. As stated below, my husband first heard about the book while reading science articles about Autism. (He is at the present moment un-diagnosed with the spectrum disorder.) He checked the book out from the public library and enjoying it himself, purchased it from Amazon for family to read. My mother-in-law read it first, and now I can say I have finally done so.

It took me a while to actually start the book for several reasons. 1) One, it is a non-fiction book, talking about the history of Autism, and I’m generally not a fan of non-fiction, usually finding them a bit of a dry read. That was true for this one as well, but as the history lesson came into more modern times, it did pick up a bit. 2) Secondly, the size was a bit daunting, the book being about 480 pages. Granted I have read longer books (Harry Potter series for example), but as already stated, non-fiction books are a bit dry and take longer for me to consume, probably because I’m not as absorbed in the pages.

This book does fit the reading challenge I’m completing by “Modern Mrs. Darcy”. I’m putting this under the label “a book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet” because having a husband on the spectrum does make me want to learn more about it so that I can better understand him better, and it is something that I will willingly pass on to anyone who would like to learn more about Autism themselves.


NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of NeurodiversityNeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

It took me a while to finally get started on this book, as the size seemed a bit daunting, and I’m normally not a non-fiction fan, but after hubby and my mother-in-law read it, I figured it was finally time.

Hubby first discovered the book through science articles about Autism. Being un-diagnosed himself, hubby has immersed himself in research to find out more about Autism spectrum and if it fits him.

This book talks about the history of Autism spectrum including the two gentlemen who coined the terms we know now, Hans Asperger (from Austria, 1938, used the term autistic psychopaths) and Leo Kanner (from the US, 1943, first labeled as early infantile autism), and the start of organizations that helped define the disorder as we know it today. It also talks about the future of Autism as seen in several movements, both of those looking for a “cure” and those looking for “acceptance”.

If you or a loved one is on the spectrum or you think they might be, I highly recommend this book. I think even those not on the spectrum will see themselves in the characteristics of Autism spectrum somewhere.

The Marvels

Finding a book that was over 600 pages seemed like a daunting task, especially one that was in the children’s or young adult section as that fits the age group of my students, but I finally found one: The Marvels by Brian Selznick.

I had read Selznick’s caldecott winner The Invention of Hugo Cabret and I liked how that book had a lot of pictures mixed in with text.

This book was no different, the first half entirely being told in pictures. It is also worth noting that the setting is a real-life place in London … Dennis Sever’s House.

Here is my Goodreads review …

The MarvelsThe Marvels by Brian Selznick

First of all, I loved how the first half of the story was told entirely in pictures.

Second, I loved the story in a story. I wasn’t even aware of it until it was revealed. Then to read that the setting is a real place? I loved the style of writing and having already read (and enjoyed) Selznick’s Hugo novel, the rest of his books are officially on my “to read” list.