Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Written and illustrated by: Grace Lin
Recommended Ages: 7-12

In the middle of reading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, I realized that I was reading something very special. It has all the elements that make a book a classic, including a believable main character tackling major obstacles, beautiful writing and gorgeous artwork. It's a timeless story that will appeal to both children and adults alike. If you have a child between the ages of six and twelve, I would say run to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. You will not be disappointed.

Minli is a young girl who lives with her mother and father at the juncture where Fruitless Mountain and the Jade River meet. They are desperately poor as they eke out a meager living by working in the rice fields. Her mother complains constantly about their futile existence, but her father fills Minli's head with wonderful tales. One day Minli spends one of her precious copper coins on a goldfish, which it turns out can talk. He convinces her that she should go to Neverending Mountain to visit the Man in the Moon and ask how their family can change their fortune. So off she goes.

Along the way, she meets (and rescues) a dragon that can't fly, and together they venture towards the Man in the Moon. Minli and the dragon meet a cast of characters, rich and poor, who share their stories with the pair. They encounter kings and princesses and green tigers throughout their journey, and you, the reader, are left wanting more. Minli is an appealing character, whom children will relate to. She's feisty, brave and determined to better her family's situation.

One of the wonderful things that Lin does in almost every chapter is interject a Chinese folk tale that weaves in beautifully with the story. She does a masterful job of lacing together Minli's quest with these folk tales. She also manages to present a parallel story of the parents' evolution as they (especially her mother) become less bitter about their circumstances and more appreciative of what really matters.

I think Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a must have for anyone who cares about children's literature. The book itself is printed on heavier than usual stock, and there are beautiful color-plate illustrations scattered throughout the 278 pages. It reminds me of the high quality hardcover books I had in my library as a child.

One last thought. I think this would be a wonderful story for a class or a family to read together. While many 7-12 year olds are certainly capable of reading it on their own, I think this is one book that everyone benefits from hearing it out loud. I realize I may sound a bit over the top about Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, but it is truly a gem and one of the best books of 2009 (if not the last decade!).

BookNosher Tidbit: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was a 2010 Honor Newbery Book. It also has the following:
•Starred Kirkus Review
•Starred Booklist Review
•Booklist Top 10 SF/Fantasy for Youth:2009
•2009 Parents' Choice Gold Winner

No comments: