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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Paperback – April 12, 2011
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
*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. Grades 3-6. --Andrew Medlar --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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The author has a wonderful website with activities related to this book. This is a great way to make connections with crafts and baking. One 11 year old fan created a board game of the book- talk about incentive to read! My rising 5th graders love this book and I suspect you will too.
(Now Dad: I can only second my daughter's very laudatory review of this book. Of course it's terrific -- with two daughters of my own -- to have a brave heroine who sees beyond the surface of things and braves great danger to "change her family's fortunes," and we loved the magical realism that infuses this book, but the fact is that it's just a great adventure. I genuinely looked forward to our reading each night and even found myself reading this book myself during my own commutes so I wouldn't fall behind on those occasions when my daughter insisted on continuing her reading alone beyond bedtime. It was a joy, and we're preparing to read the next tale from Ms Lin.)
The main story weaves in and out of the stories within the story and all are intertwined in a masterful and poetic way that makes the story both simple and yet profound. All the stories wrap up as a nice, tidy package, but not in a way that makes the book stilted, but rather like one of those 3-D wooden puzzles in which each piece, joined in the correct order, creates a perfect whole. The beautiful full-color illustrations blend seamlessly with the story and enhanced the enchanting quality of the book.
As other reviewers have said, this is one of the best children's books I've ever read, perhaps in a class with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's "The Little Prince". My only regret about the book is that my daughters are just a shade too young to share it with them quite yet* - I can't wait to do so!
* The editorial reviews say that the book is for grades 3-6, but I think age 5 to 6 would be a perfect time for a parent to read this book to a child -while children are still young enough to be enchanged by the magic.