Not only does Grace Lin write Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, she also provides stunning illustrations to accompany the story. It was part folktale, part fantasy, and an all-around great adventure as Minli set off to meet the Old Man of the Moon.
Minli’s family is poor and the only form of entertainment was the stories she had grown up listening to; her father told her about Magistrate Tiger, the Jade Dragon, and the Fruitless Mountain. Stories about fortune and people changing their luck inspire her to use one of her only copper coins in order to buy a goldfish. Instead of bringing her family good fortune, she feels the weight of her family having another mouth to feed.
When she released the fish into the river, the goldfish tells her the story of the Never-Ending Mountain. She learns of Old Man of the Moon, living at the top of the Never-Ending Mountain, whose red thread weaves together everyone’s fate. Growing up in the shadow of the Fruitless Mountain, Minli finally decides that it is up to her to change the fate of her village and the fortune of her family, and she takes it upon herself to meet the Old Man.
Minli meets many different people and creatures along her journey; a flightless dragon, a Buffalo Boy, and a village in which all of its inhabitants know the true meaning of happiness. While many folktales can appear preachy, Lin employs them with ease to provide background information about the story. She ties everything up neatly with a red thread; the missing line that Minli must use to request an audience with the Old Man of the Moon.
It was an enjoyable and sweet tale about a girl’s discovery of what happiness is and the meaning of friendship. Although it was a juvenile fiction novel, I found myself amazed at the depth of the subject matter and, when I finished, I wanted to read it all over again.