• William Stark

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin: Chinese folk tales with a modern twist

Updated: Jan 3

Overall rating: 9/10


Plot: 9/10

Quality of writing: 9/10

Characters: 9/10

Concerning content (language, violence, etc.): minimal

Difficulty: 3/10

Age level: 8 and up



Summary

Drawing inspiration from both fantasy and traditional Chinese legends, this adventure story follows the exploits of Minli (a poor girl who is seeking her fortune) and Dragon (a dragon) in a style similar to that of The Wizard of Oz. While incorporating themes of happiness and family, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon also teaches important lessons such as the value of selflessness. Overall, this charming adventure is definitely worth a read for anyone. (Plus, the author illustrated it herself!)


Plot

The plot of this book is admirably straightforward and easy to follow (Minli needs to get to Never-Ending Mountain to ask the Old Man of the Moon how to change her family’s fortunes). However, the plot remains engaging due to the multiple related short stories told by characters within the main story, which end up connecting to each other and the main storyline, forming a convincing backstory. This also means that during the conclusion of the story, not only does the main storyline resolve, but several side storylines as well, making the conclusion an extremely satisfying one for the reader. This clearly reflects a significant effort on the part of the author. Overall, the plot of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is quite nice and merits a 9 out of 10.


Characters

The protagonist in this book is Minli, a young Chinese girl from a poor family, who goes on a journey over the course of the book in order to ask the Old Man of the Moon how to change her family’s fortune. Along the way, she develops new character traits such as selflessness and thankfulness, to the point that when she finds out that she can only ask the Old Man of the Moon one question, she asks a question for her friend Dragon rather than herself. The other “good guys” also exemplify positive traits: Minli’s parents confidently trust that she will return, and the King of the City of Bright Moonlight parts with an ancient family heirloom so that Minli can complete her quest. The cast of characters in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon are not only well-written, but many serve as a positive example to the reader. (9/10)


Difficulty

This book is not a hard read: Lin’s style is descriptive without being confusing, and the plot is quite straightforward. The only potential difficulty some readers might encounter is the number of side stories told by characters, which could potentially be confusing. However, most of these stories are relatively short; they are also all related to the plot in some way. Overall, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is not a difficult read. (3/10)


Quality of writing

As mentioned before, Grace Lin borrows heavily from traditional Chinese myths throughout the book; however, the book is no less engaging for incorporating such ancient sources. Lin also does an excellent job of keeping the action moving along (meaning the reader won’t get bogged down) and adding descriptive language to keep things interesting. Lin also incorporates many shorter stories into the main storyline by having characters act as narrators, which breaks up the action and prevents it from becoming too fast-paced. On the whole, the quality of the writing in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is excellent and deserves a 9 out of 10.


Concerning content

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is an excellent book for many reasons, and one of the foremost of these is that there is hardly any language or violence at all. To prove my point: the worst name anyone is called is “pathetic dog” and the only time someone is injured (Dragon), he only gets four scratches, which are healed almost immediately in the next chapter. While some scenes (particularly those involving “Green Tiger,” a supernatural, evil tiger that attacks people) may be “scary” to some readers, these scenes are infrequent and the book is not really calculated to be particularly frightening overall.


Age level

This book is a fairly easy read, contains no violence or language, and has relatively few “scary” scenes. Overall, this book is best for readers ages 8 and up.

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