The Moth Keeper by K. O’Neill

The Moth Keeper by K. O’Neill. RH Graphic, 2023. 9780593182277

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Hardcover graphic novel

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? Anya decides to dedicate her life to a noble profession, that of moth keeper. She must care for the Moon-Moths that pollinate the special Night-Flower tree. This tree bestows blessings upon her nocturnal village community. The desert can be a harsh place to make a home with scorching days and chilly nights. As Anya takes on the moth keeper’s responsibilities her existence becomes more and more solitary. Her companion, Estell, worries that Anya’s desire to prove herself useful will outweigh her self-care.  

O’Neill has crafted a beautiful graphic novel with soft illustrations and nuanced characters. They seamlessly include overlooked identities in this adventure, such as LGBTQ+ folks and characters with disabilities. The illustrations are a mix of expansive landscapes and bustling community scenes that allow the reader to immerse themselves in Anya’s world. The characters have human and animal characteristics, such as Anya’s fox-like ears. The magic elements of the story are grounded by the protagonist’s struggle to carve out a place for herself while still accepting the support of her found family.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  The Moth Keeper is a fantasy coming-of-age graphic novel for older elementary and middle school age readers. Great for fans of Miyazaki’s transportive stories, like Spirited Away that balance detailed magical adventures with quiet moments that allow the reader (or viewer) to breathe.

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools, middle schools, public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Youth graphic novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Colleen Stewart, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: March 23, 2023

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