Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, is the story of Minli, a poor girl growing up with her family in a poor village in the shadow of the Fruitless Mountain. Although they don't have much, Minli loves her family and her father's constant stories. Her mother is not so content, though, forever sighing and wishing that their fortunes would change, and one night Minli sneaks away from home, to ask the Old Man on the Moon how to change her family's fortune.

It's not an easy journey, but she makes some friends along the way, primarily a flightless dragon. Together they defeat the green tiger and make their way to the foot of the mountain where the Old Man of the Moon can be found.

Throughout the narrative, other stories are told, mostly centered around the misdeeds of a greedy magistrate who wished to be part of the royal family. Eventually these stories all tie together and interact with the main story, of Minli and her quest.

Although both the story and the framed stories are Grace Lin's creations, the motifs and characterizations draw heavily from traditional Chinese folklore. Additionally, Lin's colorful artwork enhances the story beautifully, making it a real delight to turn the page and find another of her illustrations. The book is well-deserving of its Newbury Honor status.

Especially refreshing if you are looking for mythology of non-European descent, but I'd recommend this to anyone interested in folklore and story traditions. While Lin has fleshed out the sparse folkloric stories and made them her own, they retain the flavor of their origins.

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