Friday, September 4, 2009

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Lin, Grace. 2009. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. New York: Little Brown.

Grace Lin, as talented an artist as she is an author, illustrates her own novels; and it shows in the way that her cover art and drawings so expertly convey the mystical, magical feeling of her book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. The jacket art draws the reader in; and, thumbing through pages numbered in gold and sprinkled with Chinese symbols and colorful illustrations, the reader is entranced before the story even begins.

…and when the story does begin on the bleak and barren Fruitless Mountain home of Minli and her parents, the reader is enchanted by the storytelling of Minli’s gentle father and the endless possibilities presented in his stories and in those of the Goldfish Man, an itinerant vendor. Unlike her mother, disheartened and dispirited by poverty, Minli is rich in spirit and belief. She believes that she can change her family’s poor fortune by following the clues of the ancient stories, stories that will lead her to seek the Old Man of the Moon.

…and so,
On a blanket, she put:

a needle
a pair of chopsticks
her white rabbit rice bowl
a small piece of bamboo
a hollow gourd full of water
a small knife
a fishnet
some uncooked rice
a large pot
and the one remaining copper coin

Then she wrapped her blanket into a bag, tied it on her back, and took a last look at the shabby house. Through the window, Fruitless Mountain stood like a shadow, but Minli closed her eyes and imagined the house shimmering with gold and the mountain jade green with trees, and smiled. Then, she opened the door and left.

Along the way, she will travel through the Dragon Gate, the City of Bright Moonlight and the Village of Moon Rain. She will encounter a dragon, the buffalo boy, and the Green Tiger. And she will change her family’s fortune, and that of others as well; but not in the way she thinks.

A unique and delightful book that craftily reminds Minli’s mother (and the reader) of lessons learned many years ago by a young girl from Kansas who traveled in a tornado – faith, hope, charity, perseverance, and family.

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