The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Written by Kelly Barnhill

Publisher’s Summary:
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. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers 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 girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge–with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Deadly birds with uncertain intentions flock nearby. A volcano, quiet for centuries, rumbles just beneath the earth’s surface. And the woman with the Tiger’s heart is on the prowl . . .

Primary Source Pairing:
In this fantastical story of Xan and Luna, Glerk and Fyrian, Antain and the Protectorate, and all of their parallel and intersecting paths, the moon and stars also play an important role. Xan feeds the babies she saves from the forest starlight, like silken threads of spiders’ webs, a marvelous food for a growing infant (pg 20). When Xan saves Luna, a tiny baby with a crescent moon birthmark in the center of her forehead, her reach into the sky for starlight also collects moonlight which enmagicks the child. The tale continues and weaves through magical lands and tests the boundaries of good and evil.

For this primary source pairing, invite students to study an early constellation map (somewhat fantastical itself at the time) originally included in a publication called the “Atlas Designed to Illustrate Burritt’s Geography of the Heavens.” Print the image on the biggest possible paper or link to the map so students can view it digitally. The intricate details on this constellation map are worth a close look and a slow view. Additionally, encourage students to make an inference about when this map was created. Share the item details after the primary source analysis.

As an extension, print the entire nine pages of the “Atlas Designed to Illustrate Burritt’s Geography of the Heavens” and fold and staple it into a book. Presenting this primary source in this way will create a unique viewing and analysis experience for students.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What size and shape is the map?
  • What graphical elements do you see?
  • What on the map looks strange or unfamiliar?
  • Describe anything that looks like it does not belong on a map.
  • What place or places does the map show?
  • What, if any, words do you see?
  • Create an inference about when this map was created.
  • Why do you think this map was made?
  • How do you think this map was made?
  • Who do you think the audience was for this map?
  • How does it compare to current maps of this place?
  • What does this map tell you about what the people who made it knew and what they didn’t?
  • If this map was made today, what would be different? What would be the same?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“Atlas Designed to Illustrate Burritt’s Geography of the Heavens” Document: Library of Congress
The Constellations (March, February, January; December, November, October) Map: Libary of Congress

Additional Resources:
Atlas Designed to Illustrate the Geography of the Heavens: Linda Hall Library Digital Collections
The Geography of the Heavens: and Class-Book of Astronomy: Accompanied by a Celestial Atlas: