I was about 1/2 through The Girl Who Drank the Moon but Kelly Barnhill when the book awards came out this last week. It had been sitting in my e-book reader for about a month. I am usually a big fantasy fan but this one just didn’t catch my interest.
It has interesting characters and an ok start but something just didn’t make it for me. I just kept going to other books. I have wondered what was stopping me. It was one of those stories that just wasn’t hitting home.
So after the awards and it won I was happy and surprised! It was great to have another Minnesota author in the know but now I wondered what was I missing. I returned to reading it and hung in there. At some point on Friday night I was hooked. The interesting characters now seems to be good friends I cared about. The plot was twisting and turning leading us to see how the history and stories of this village shaped the people and their thinking.
This story played out how fears and sorrow can lead us to misunderstandings. It showed how a few with an idea and positive thinking (a sense of caring) can change the world. In all the swirling negativity it was hope that pulled them through.
It was hope and a willingness to listen and learn from others that changed things. There were points when anger was on the edge of taking over but each time a character stopped, reflected (if only for a second) and realized that hatred was not going to help. There were moments when love and listening helped them understand why someone choose an action that they did not agree with. It was realizing we all have stories to tell and until we know those stories we can not judge a person. We need to listen.
Does this sound like issue with the school yard bully? Does this sound like the fears that are taking over our country as new people and different cultures join us?
This little fantasy has so much to offer but it took a while for me to see it. It is one of those stories you need to read to the end. Remember the child in your classroom who gives up on a book after a few pages. Tell them to keep reading, tell yourself to keep reading. Maybe read it out loud to a group – I would love to hear the connections that kids would make with this little gem!