Book Review: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

How far would you go to learn your fate and be able to ask life’s biggest questions? For Minli, the young protagonist in today’s book, the answer is very far! Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a juvenile fantasy story featuring elements from Chinese folklore. It was also the 2010 Newbery Medal Winner.

This is another book from my children’s lit class. It’s outside of my comfort zone but ended up being a lot of fun. Read on for more about this book, including my full review!

About the Book

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Title: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Author: Grace Lin

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy using elements of Chinese folklore/myths

Synopsis: In the valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.

Awards: 2010 Newbery Medal; various other local and national awards

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

My Thoughts

This book was a very pleasant surprise, courtesy of my children’s literature class. It reminds me of the books I loved when I was little, back when my only reading goal was to earn as many Accelerated Reader points as possible! Where the Mountain Meets the Moon tells the story of Minli as she searches for The Man of the Moon in order to ask him some of her biggest questions: how to have a successful life, what to do to be prosperous, and how she can make her mother stop sighing from want. Woven into Minli’s story are traditional Chinese myths and legends, told by the characters Minli meets along her journey. We also see Minli’s parents life while she is on her journey and how they cope while she is on her adventure.

The short chapters make it easy to keep track of which storyline we are currently hearing about – Minli’s, her parents, or the legends. This is an easy book to pick up and read in bits and snatches, which is nice for busy seasons and for reluctant readers who struggle to commit to longer books. Before you know it, by reading just a chapter or two at a time, the book is through! The characters grew on me as the story went along, too. I started out only moderately invested in Minli’s plight. True, it was unfortunate, but I was also a bit put off my her family’s “woe is me” attitude. I was glad to see that improve throughout the story, but I was also glad to see that the family did receive the material prosperity they originally wanted as well. One of the morals of the story surrounds the importance of people over things and recognizing the value of what you have, and I am glad that this did not culminate with a feel-good attitude but no improvement in physical living conditions.

The Verdict

This is a very fun and enjoyable story with nuanced characters who grow and learn from their experiences and from the stories and legends that are interwoven with the main storyline. I highly recommend Where the Mountain Meets the Moon for readers interested in Chinese folklore, adventure stories, children’s book about journeys, or anyone looking for a quick-paced and light hearted read that still manages to share a substantial, positive message. Oh, and dragons. If you are looking for a children’s story featuring a non-scary dragon, this one definitely fits.

I’m not usually a fan of any kind of folklore, but this book is a definite exception! I had so much fun reading this book and I am glad that my class assigned it. Have you read any books recently that surprised you in a positive way?

Until the next chapter,


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