Review of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Lin_WhereTheMountainMeetsTheMoonWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin; illus. by the author
282 pp. Little 6/09 isbn 978-0-316-11427-1 $16.99

Minli lives with her father, a storyteller and dreamer, and her disapproving mother in a poor village in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain. An encounter with a goldfish peddler prompts Minli to seek the Old Man of the Moon, who makes his home atop the forebodingly named Never-Ending Mountain, to ask him for help in changing her family’s fortunes. On her arduous journey, Minli is assisted by folklore creatures including a talking fish who points her in the right direction and a dragon who becomes her closest compatriot. Other children, too, help on her quest; twins (collectively named Da-A-Fu) outsmart wicked Green Tiger, and Minli’s friendship with a buffalo boy prefigures her success. The story’s many elements are entwined, neatly symbolized by the intricately tangled red threads of destiny that, as Minli discovers, are overseen by the Old Man of the Moon. The book’s format reflects this interconnectedness: interspersed with the main text are folktales explaining past events or stories allowing characters to relate their experiences. Likewise, as Lin’s appended author’s note indicates, her own life story informs the work, as do her dozen cited sources. Lovely full-page illustrations in blues, reds, greens, and luminous golds as well as delicate chapter-openers, all influenced by traditional Chinese art, contribute to this original, folklore-inspired fantasy’s sense of timelessness. The book’s numerous typos are unfortunate.

From the September/October 2009 Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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