Reviews for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Booklist Reviews 2009 May #1
*Starred Review* In this enchanted and enchanting adventure, Minli, whose name means "quick thinking," lives with her desperately poor parents at the confluence of Fruitless Mountain and the Jade River. While her mother worries and complains about their lot, her father brightens their evenings with storytelling. One day, after a goldfish salesman promises that his wares will bring good luck, Minli spends one of her only two coins in an effort to help her family. After her mother ridicules what she believes to be a foolish purchase, Minli sets out to find the Old Man of the Moon, who, it is told, may impart the true secret to good fortune. Along the way, she finds excitement, danger, humor, magic, and wisdom, and she befriends a flightless dragon, a talking fish, and other companions and helpmates in her quest. With beautiful language, Lin creates a strong, memorable heroine and a mystical land. Stories, drawn from a rich history of Chinese folktales, weave throughout her narrative, deepening the sense of both the characters and the setting and smoothly furthering the plot. Children will embrace this accessible, timeless story about the evil of greed and the joy of gratitude. Lin's own full-color drawings open each chapter. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2009 June
Where troubles melt like lemondrops

According to my records, I have read The Wizard of Oz 17 times. That’s a conservative estimate and doesn’t count the number of times I heard the book read aloud when I was a child. I have defended L. Frank Baum’s work from detractors who find it didactic or flat, and I have watched the eyes of more than 300 second-graders as they absorb the story of Dorothy and her adventures.

Grace Lin’s latest book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, is part Chinese legend, part Zen storytelling, part feminist-inspired folktale and many parts Oz. My list of “things that are just like Oz” includes: a girl on a journey for a magical being, a friend who needs help, a brick road, cliffhanger chapter endings, old-fashioned full-color illustrations and a dramatic tone. But, despite my long list, Lin’s adventure story reads like an homage to Oz rather than a story derived from it.

Our heroine, Minli, spends her family’s hard-earned money on a goldfish that is supposed to change their fortune. Ma is the keeper of the money, and she complains constantly about her family’s impoverished state. The stories of the talking goldfish inspire Minli to set out on a journey to Never-Ending Mountain, where she will ask the Old Man in the Moon for help.

Following the traditions of the hero myth, Lin portrays Minli as she travels far from home, carrying items that end up being important for her survival. She meets a magical and beloved dragon companion who helps her see what is really important. She meets and overcomes challenges and has to complete her mission alone. And, in the end, Minli learns what she is supposed to learn. Every character in the story changes and grows during the time that Minli is away.

My future second-graders are going to love Minli and her stories when I read this book to them next year. They will see the similarities to Oz, but that will only make the story better for them. Suspenseful without being scary, complex without being complicated, this spirited tale of self-discovery and fate has a little something for every reader.

Robin Smith shares Oz and other stories with her second-grade class in Nashville.

Copyright 2009 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Minli seeks the Old Man of the Moon, hoping to change her family's fortunes. Interspersed with the main story are folktales explaining past events or anecdotes allowing characters to relate their experiences. Lovely full-page illustrations in blues, reds, greens, and luminous golds as well as delicate chapter-openers, all influenced by traditional Chinese art, contribute to the folklore-inspired fantasy's sense of timelessness. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #5
Minli lives with her father, a storyteller and dreamer, and her disapproving mother in a poor village in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain. An encounter with a goldfish peddler prompts Minli to seek the Old Man of the Moon, who makes his home atop the forebodingly named Never-Ending Mountain, to ask him for help in changing her family's fortunes. On her arduous journey, Minli is assisted by folklore creatures, including a talking fish who points her in the right direction and a dragon who becomes her closest compatriot. Other children, too, help on her quest; twins (collectively named Da-A-Fu) outsmart wicked Green Tiger, and Minli's friendship with a buffalo boy prefigures her success. The story's many elements are entwined, neatly symbolized by the intricately tangled red threads of destiny that, as Minli discovers, are overseen by the Old Man of the Moon. The book's format reflects this interconnectedness: interspersed with the main text are folktales explaining past events or stories allowing characters to relate their experiences. Likewise, as Lin's appended author's note indicates, her own life story informs the work, as do her dozen cited sources. Lovely full-page illustrations in blues, reds, greens, and luminous golds as well as delicate chapter-openers, all influenced by traditional Chinese art, contribute to this original, folklore-inspired fantasy's sense of timelessness. The book's numerous typos are unfortunate. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 May #1
To change her family's fortunes, a poor Chinese girl embarks on a fantastical quest to discover she already has everything she needs to be happy. Minli and her parents live in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain, where they toil endlessly. Bitter and resentful, Minli's mother complains when her husband fills Minli's imagination with enchanting tales of Never-Ending Mountain and the Old Man of the Moon. "Eager for adventure," Minli sets out alone seeking advice from the Old Man of the Moon. En route she befriends a dragon who joins her quest. Together they encounter a talking goldfish, a boy with a buffalo, a king, a fierce green tiger and laughing twins before scaling Never-Ending Mountain. Lin deftly incorporates elements from Chinese folk- and fairy tales to create stories within the main story and provide context for Minli's quest. With her "lively and impulsive spirit," Minli emerges a stalwart female role model who learns the importance of family, friendship and faith during her amazing journey. Richly hued illustrations reinforce the Chinese folk theme. (author's note) (Fantasy. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2009 November/December
Minli is a high-spirited, adventurous young girl who lives in a tiny, poor village in the corner of Fruitless Mountain and the Jade River. Though weary from long hours in the muddy rice fields, Minli?s father entertains her each evening with fantastic tales of dragons, treasures, and ancient times when Fruitless Mountain was lush and green. The stories do more that entertain Minli--they fuel her desire to seek a better life for her family. Inspired by Chinese folk tales, author/illustrator Grace Lin brilliantly weaves tales within a tale as she takes Minli on the adventure of a lifetime beginning with magical goldfish and ending with an encounter with the Old Man of the Moon. Readers will love this extraordinary tale with its fanciful characters, colorful illustrations, and the hopes and dreams of a determined and courageous young girl. Highly Recommended. Julie Stephens, Educational Reviewer, Calhoun, Georgia ¬ 2009 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 July

Gr 3-6-Living in the shadow of the Fruitless Mountain, Minli and her parents spend their days working in the rice fields, barely growing enough to feed themselves. Every night, Minli's father tells her stories about the Jade Dragon that keeps the mountain bare, the greedy and mean Magistrate Tiger, and the Old Man of the Moon who holds everyone's destiny. Determined to change her family's fortune, Minli sets out to find the Old Man of the Moon, urged on by a talking goldfish who gives her clues to complete her journey. Along the way she makes new friends including a flightless dragon and an orphan and proves her resourcefulness when she tricks a group of greedy monkeys and gets help from a king. Interwoven with Minli's quest are tales told by her father and by those she meets on the way. While these tales are original to Lin, many characters, settings, and themes are taken from traditional Chinese folklore. The author's writing is elegant, and her full-color illustrations are stunning. Minli's determination to help her family, as well as the grief her parents feel at her absence, is compelling and thoroughly human.-Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD

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