Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 1
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In the valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.
Wow. I don’t even know what else to say about this book other than that it’s amazing and perfect and should be in every classroom, school, and child’s library. I mean, just, WOW.
Where to even start? I understand from reading the author’s note at the end that this book is inspired by Chinese folk tales and mythology, but Lin created her own fables. The Old Man of the Mountain is not a Chinese myth, but is inspired by several similar myths. The stories are so authentic, and they flow so seamlessly with the narrative, and they relate to each other in ways that kids might not recognize the first time they read but gives the book depth so it can be read over and over and over.
The story is so touching and sweet, but also so fun and adventurous. It’s a morality tale, which is kind of odd to read in a middle grade novel, but it’s so effective, and honestly I cried when the moral started to all piece together at the end.
I loved the characters. I loved the setting and beautiful descriptions. I loved the writing. I loved the story. I loved how whimsical it is. I loved EVERYTHING about this book!
It makes an outstanding read-aloud, especially with the folk-tales woven throughout. It would also work nicely as a novel study, though it would be a bit long and difficult for struggling readers. But I think middle school kids will get just as much out of this book as elementary kids, and even my five-year-old loved it.
Also, there are color illustrations throughout the novel, which Min did in the traditional Chinese style. They are GORGEOUS and authentic, and they will also help children connect with the culture and setting of the novel.
Seriously, this book is amazing. Get it for your kids and read it to them if they aren’t able to read it for themselves.
Thanks to Sam for recommending it for our family. We loved it!