Thursday, March 14, 2013

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Children's Literature Novel)

Lin, Grace. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition, 2011. (304 pages)
In this mythical fantasy, Chinese folktales come to life as young Minli leaves her poverty-stricken village to find a better fortune from the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s father loves to tell stories about the evil Magistrate Tiger and the powerful Old Man of the Moon who ties people to their destinies with pieces of red string. Minli, tired of her mother’s careworn face and constant sighs, leaves her home to find out how to change her family’s destiny.
This story has all the elements of an epic journey: Minli has help from interesting friends including a flightless dragon, she has moments of self-doubt and moments of resolve, she faces danger in the form of a giant green tiger spirit, and she has to make sacrifices and learn lessons. Many elements of Chinese culture are also included in the story: dragons, paintings, tea, gifts, goldfish, gardens, silk, porcelain, and ancient folktales. There are porquoi tales explaining how the moon came to exist and how “Fruitless Mountain” lost its greenery. There are magical tales about how to become a dragon. There are moral tales teaching that one should not be jealous or forceful. Each time a folktale is relayed in the novel, it is indented and bordered by illustrations of the classic Chinese coins. In the end, Minli and her mother discover what true fortune is and how they already had it the whole time.
Lexi and I read this together, and I have to say that I think I loved it as much as she did. Every night I was like, "Come on, Lexi! Let's go read!" That has to be a sign of a successful children's novel.

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