Monday, December 12, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Where The Mountain Meets The Moon

About The  Book:   In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life's questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family's fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer. 

First Line: Far away from here, following the Jade River, there was once a black mountain that cut into the sky like a jagged piece of metal.
One Great Line: "The village was quietly asleep and the stars filled the sky like spilled salt on dried seaweed." (27)

What Others Are Saying: "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

"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.

What I Thought: This is definitely one of my favorite books I have read this year. Every culture has stories that are whispered in the ears of their children. They begin as folktales that are passed down in verbal narrative until someone wrote them down. I love them, the sound of the words, the rhythm their message beats into my heart and the vivid images they paint across the canvas in my mind.  Rudyard Kipling's, The Elephant's Child and The Cat That Walked by Himself,  Tall Tales of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill and Brer Rabbit. Lin artfully braids a complex story of greed and gratitude with bright threads of chinese folktales woven carefully to create an image that on the surface appears simple, but those who have traveled the tale will know otherwise. Add to that her brilliant illustrations and it is a book qualified to be called a masterpiece. I loved this book.

About the Author:  Grace Lin

Who: Grace Lin is the author and illustrator of picture books, early readers and middle grade novels. Grace's 2010 Newbery Honor book WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON was chosen for Al Roker's Today Show Kid's Book Club and was a NY Times Bestseller. LING & TING, Grace's first early reader, was honored with the Theodor Geisel Honor in 2011. An Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award nominee for the US, most of Grace's books are about the Asian-American experience because she believes, "Books erase bias, they make the uncommon everyday, and the mundane exotic. A book makes all cultures universal."

  "...the book was inspired by the Chinese folktales and myths that I read as a child and when I began to write this book, I researched and read a lot more. Many times, I would read a myth that was little more than a line and would be unable to find more—which led me to create the story in my head." -Grace Lin

More Links (These are worth checking out!)

Bonnie's Books shares illustrations and excerpts.
Wagging Tales has a fascinating interview where Lin talks about her inspiration.
Paper Tigers shares more on Grace and her other books.
Seven Impossible Things to do Before Breakfast asks Lin about Minli as a character.
Story Sleuths offers a writerly analysis.

You can find the other MMGM Bloggers in my sidebar!!


  1. The cover is very attractive. I could see myself grabbing this book based on the cover alone.

  2. The title grabbed me - and the cover sealed the deal.

  3. I loved this one! Great choice for a MMGM!

  4. I want to read this one SO BAD!!! I guess I better get on it soon, huh?! :-)

  5. I read this book earlier this year and loved it as well. It's simple but deep in the way true folktales are, and the illustrations are gorgeous!

  6. This book is sitting on my TBR stack. Great review, Pam! I love LING & TING and Grace's picture books. I really should read this next.

  7. I SO loved this book. My daughter is adopted from China so it made me even more drawn to it. It was a great choice to spotlight.

  8. I just read this book over the weekend and loved it . . . reminded me a bit of Wizard of Oz and My Father's Dragon . . . but with a whole other element of Chinese culture and folktales. I can't wait to recommend it to my students.

  9. Love the first line and the other great line. Great sensory description!


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