Where the Mountain Meets the Moon - Grace Lin

"You know where Never-Ending Mountain is?" the dragon asked. "I thought to see the Old Man of the Moon was impossible. You must be very wise to know how to find him."
"Not really," Minli replied. "I got the directions from a goldfish."

I've enjoyed a few other books by Grace Lin (notably, The Year of the Dog), who writes and illustrates books for younger readers, usually having something to do with Chinese culture. A couple have dealt specifically with being Asian-American, so I've paid particular attention to those. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a little different; it takes place in ancient China, and is sort of a mash-up and remix of old Chinese folktales and legends.

Lin explains in her Author's Note that when she first encountered some books of Chinese folktales and fairy-tales, she was disappointed by their spare, thin plots and lack of detail. Eventually, though, she grew to love the stories and began to rewrite or expand on them herself. So I'm not entirely sure which parts of the stories here are her own and which are taken wholesale from earlier stories. But what is clear is that Lin has been able to weave together many old stories into one beautiful tapestry.

The overarching story is about a young girl, Minli, from a poor family in a poor village. Having heard her father's tales about the Old Man of the Moon, she decides to set out for Never-Ending Mountain to ask him how to change their fortune. Along the way, she encounters a friendly dragon who accompanies her on a magical journey to meet the Old Man of the Moon. Along the way, various characters tell stories of their own, and each is somehow related to Minli's own journey.

Lin has a great way with language and peppers the book with colorful metaphors. I read this book to my daughter, who's probably a bit younger than the target age of the book, but she just couldn't get enough of it. At about 280 pages, it took us nearly two months to finish it, but as soon as we finished she wanted to hear it again. (We might just need to get a copy for ourselves; the one we read was from the library.) I enjoyed the stories, too, and it's definitely something I would read again.

Fed to jonathan's brain | September 09, 2009 | Comments (0)


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