I've read one other Grace Lin book, Year of the Rat, which I liked a lot. Last year at the Dublin Literacy Conference I missed my opportunity to meet her in person, DRAT! so when I saw her newest novel, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon on many Newbery lists, I claimed it as mine before Karen could.
I was not disappointed, I loved it. It's the story of Minli, a young Chinese girl whose family struggle to survive. Working the land to grow rice in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain is difficult and, well, mostly fruitless! Minli's mother sighs constantly out of frustration, exhaustion, misery, disgust, you name it, she sighs about it. Minli's father on the other hand, tells stories of dragons and other mythical creatures to explain the world they live in. Minli loves the tales and wishes to explore to see if they are real or not. Her mother just sighs.
When Minli uses one of only two coins in the house to buy a gold fish from a traveling salesman, the adventure begins. She decides to find the Man in the Moon and ask him how to change her family's fortune. On the way she meets a flightless dragon who becomes her traveling companion, a king, a talking fish, some ornery monkeys and other creatures and characters that help her on the way.
The quest is wonderful and magical. Grace Lin winds the story of Minli's journey to the Old Man of the Moon around the Chinese folktales shared with her as she grew up. She also shares her artistic talents with full color pictures spread throughout the novel.
I'm on my way to the bookstore to buy this one for the library and will recommend it to all of my readers grades 3 through 5.
A Year of Reading