Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon had me at ni hao (thanks, Kai Lan!)

Young Minli, who lives on a poor farm with her mother and father, resolves to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask how she can change her family’s fortune. The Old Man, you see,  is the Guardian of the Book of Fortune, and can answer any question in the world. So Minli sets off to find Never-Ending Mountain to see the Old Man, and along the way, has all sorts of adventures–meeting talking goldfish, selfish monkeys, and a very special dragon who accompanies her on her quest.

Meanwhile, Minli’s parents embark on a different sort of journey, as they endeavor to better fathom their daughter’s actions. A lovely, organic symmetry develops between the tale of Minli and that of her parents, resulting in a deeply satisfying ending.

Lin incorporates several Chinese myths and  folktales into her narrative, and I was surprised to see some that I’d always thought of as Indian tales.  The monkey who refuses to let go the treasure in his fist even at the cost of losing his freedom–surely I’d read that in an Amar Chitra Katha sometime? There must be interesting scholarship out there on the shared roots  of such primordial stories… Meanwhile, I’ll chalk up yet another area of ignorance and move on, to another story that made me uncomplicatedly happy. I’d  last read about the mean shopkeeper, the beggar and a magic peach tree in Grade 3 or so, in my Radiant Reader textbook at Mater Dei Convent school, New Delhi, and I’d forgotten it till now. There’s strong magic about re-discovered tales that work in their second life;  Lin’s telling evoked not just my memory of the story, but of childhood itself,  a time when fables reassured us that life would reward virtue.  If books are still in currency five hundred years from now, Where the Mountain… will be around.

***

Where the Mountain meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Genre: Children’s lit. (7 years and over IMO)

6 responses to “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

  1. Thank you for reminding me of Radiant Readers- my kids don’t know what they are missing!
    And I love the line ‘ If books are still in currency five hundred years from now, Where the Mountain… will be around.” Beautiful

  2. thanks, N!
    wow, did you have Radiant Readers too? I remember being scared shitless by The country of the blind in Grade 4. I don’t think the stories were chosen with much care…

  3. I’ve never heard of Radiant Readers… I’m off to Google it! This sounds like a lovely book. I bet I would like it, nevermind my kids.

  4. @ Susan: Good luck finding the Readers–I have no idea if they still exist!
    The book is lovely–I narrated a very simplified version to my three-year-old,and he totally enjoyed it. Your kids might just be surprised into liking it!

  5. I found references to the Reader, so now I know what it is. I think I saw mention of a new edition, even… I’m not sure. It was a whole … hour or two ago (Okay, a day and a half) and for something to remain in my brain that long anymore just doesn’t happen.

    I’m working on that. I am.

  6. Dear Grace Lin,
    you are the most discrptive person ever.I like the way that Minli trys to change her fortune for her family to get ritch instead of poor.My sister said to read this book because she only took about 2or3 days because it was that good.I took about a week to finish it because I really take my time on such awesome books like yours.I want to know why you wrote this book because it intrests me how you write.I think that the other book that you should write is, “Minli`s Spare Dragon”(you dont have to write this)I think that the story COULD be about when she goes and trys to find the dragon that was with her in the past but she can`t find it and she realizes that something is wrong with the inner city and the outer city and the people.That is all I am going to tell you.
    From,
    Brooke Candia

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