Following their mother's death, Astri and Greta's father sets off from their small village in Norway for America in the hopes of making enough money to eventually send for his daughters. The girls are left in the care of their uncle and cruel aunt who soon take the opportunity to make some extra money by hiring out Astri to the local goat herder. The goat herder is an unforgiving and hard master, requiring Astri to work long hours at grueling tasks with only a corner of the living room as a place to sleep. Left primarily to her own devices, Astri has only her imagination and the stories of her father to keep her company. Soon, however, Astri discovers that she is not the only girl the goat herder has hidden away—the other girl is simple and mute, but can spin almost anything. Together with the "Spinning Girl," Astri runs away to her aunt and uncle's farm where they fetch Greta and set off on an adventure to America, which will take them east of the sun and west of the moon.