Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Little, Brown Young Readers (2009)
Reviewed by Galia Popov (age 11) for Reader Views (8/09)
“Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” is an example of many Chinese folktales and fairytales all blended together into a charming story about a girl who comes to terms with her fortune. Minli, which means “quick thinking,” is a young girl who works in the fields all day with her parents in the barren Valley of Fruitless Mountain. Minli’s family is very poor, like the rest of their small village. Minli’s mother, Ma, sighs at their plain clothes, their small house, and their small portions of rice. But unlike the rest of the village, Minli is bright and cheery, instead of dull and gray – what keeps her from becoming dull are the stories her father, Ba, tells her every night. Minli wishes that she could go to the Never-Ending Mountain to ask the Old Man of the Moon how to change her fortune. When a goldfish man stops in town, Minli spends one of her two precious coins on a pretty orange goldfish with a black fin. Ma is not pleased. “How could you spend your money on that?” Ma scolds Minli. “On something so useless? And we will have to feed it! There is barely enough rice for us as it is.” That night, Minli releases her fish into a stream. In return, the fish gives her directions to the Never-Ending Mountain. Along the way, Minli meets a flightless dragon who accompanies her on her journey.
The cover illustrations are dazzling by themselves, with brightly-colored borders and a crimson dragon across the front, Minli riding it through the clouds. There are various items relating to the story woven into the borders, such as a coin or a scroll. The other illustrations are good too, even in black and white (there will be color in the final publication). The story is as well written as the illustrations are elegant. With an easy-to-understand storyline and a nice format, this book would be best for seven to twelve-year-olds.
“Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin does not have the most complex storyline of books for this age range, but it does satisfy most of the other requirements for an interesting book. It will hold the interest of a ten to twelve-year-old (okay, twelve might be pushing it), while a younger reader will enjoy it just as much. The point is, “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” is the sort of timeless story kids have and will enjoy for generations.