Where the Mountain Meets the Moon - Grace Lin
Read for my Children's Lit class.

Annotated Bibliography written for class

Summary: Where the Mountain Meet the Moon is tale of young Minli and her quest to change her family’s fate. Minli lives in a poor muddy village at the intersection of the Jade River and the Fruitless Mountain. Minli is a happy child with a content father and a discontented mother. As entertainment in the evenings after long grueling days of work Minli’s Ba tells stories much to Minli’s delight. These stories give Minli the idea to go on a quest to ask The Old Man of the Moon how to change her family’s fate. During her quest Minli meets many characters, including a dragon who cannot fly, monkeys who will be destroyed by their greed, a jade tiger who is bent on destroying his and the twins Da-A-Fu who introduce her to a loving family. Throughout the tale many small folktale type stories are told. Some teach us lessons and all connect out main tale together in the end. Friendship and family and the virtues we should value are the main themes that resonate throughout the book.

Critique: From the inside out: the cover of this book is lovely. Grace depicts several of her characters in what seems to be an ink drawing at the pinnacle of their journey, though the reader won’t know this until they finish the book. The illustrations inside are mostly enhancing the text rather than being used to tell the story. However there are small depictions at the beginning of every chapter that I noticed gave you a clue as to what character would be involved in the subsequent chapter. The point of view shifts throughout the book being picked up by a narrator, Minli, Ma or Ba or even a secondary character.

Response: When I began this book I quite enjoyed it. The story telling was different than my usual readings and the character came to life for me immediately. However, I quickly became bored with the telling of the overall story though folktales that were not necessarily connected at that moment in time. As this reaction kicked in about a third of the way through the book It was a battle to continue. I really just wanted the main story. I wanted to see who else Minli would meet and what information they would have for her. I wanted to see if she would indeed find The Old Man of the Moon. Once the details began to come together I found myself enjoying the story again and I flew through the last sixty or so pages. The story overall hit me as very Wizard of Oz with and Asian twist.
I did read one review in which the reader said she would not have enjoyed the story half as much had she not been reading it aloud, over many nights to an enraptured seven year old. I do thing sharing this book with someone younger would be an excellent idea. It is obviously designed for a younger audience and helping a young mind shape the story would definitely take me out of my not so whimsical grown up reading mode.

Quote: (Pg. 206)
The family all cheered at that and there was a look of softness in Dragon’s eyes that Minli had never seen before. He was unused to kindness, she realized. He had spent most of his years alone and trapped by his flightless body.”

This quote resonated with me as soon as I read it. That fact that anyone, man, woman, child or beast does not know kindness is one of the most heart breaking thing I’ve ever heard. I guess that is my soft heart making an appearance but I don’t think anyone should be without at least the smallest bit of kindness. I am very glad Minli met Dragon and can help change his life.