Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

In the valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.(Amazon.com)
Year of Publication
Little, Brown and Company
Average: 5 (2 votes)


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China's Wizard of Oz?

Field of Interest/Specialty: Art & Social Studies
Posted On: 03/26/2017

“Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” is another delightful tale by Grace Lin. I find reading her books rather relaxing; they make for a quick read that can be done in one sitting or as a chapter or two each day. There are several classroom ideas that came to mind as I read this tale of young Minli bravely journeying to see if the Old Man of the Moon can help improve her family’s fortune. Firstly, taking the folktales and analyzing them one by one would be great fun--students could work in teams to creatively share these folktales through paintings, songs, poems, acting, etc. Secondly, reading the story in March made me draw a number of parallels between this tale and “The Wizard of Oz”--Minlin as Dorothy, the dragon as the cowardly lion . . . there were even crazy monkeys who tried to prevent Minlin succeeding on her journey! Students could create character lists and parallels, describing similar features between the two stories. Finally, with such strong character development and examples in the back of the book which show how Grace Lin was inspired by her own travels and photos to create the magical world for this book, I might ask students to write their own fictional short stories twisting a folk tale with one of their own personal travels. Whatever the assignment may be, this book provides an abundance of inspiration with a depth of insightfulness as we are all called to think about what true happiness is and the power we have in our own hands to achieve it.

Review of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Field of Interest/Specialty: Math, Social Studies, English
Posted On: 01/19/2017

Kylie Rodriguez
The Swain School
Grade 5- Classroom Teacher
Math, Social Studies, English
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
This novel is written by the multi-talented Grace Lynn. Not only is she a talented author that includes several literary devices and detail, she is an outstanding illustrator as well. Grace does a beautiful job of pulling in her Chinese culture by including a plethora of Chinese folklore and history within Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. In addition, she strives to paint a picture in the reader’s mind and provides detailed illustrations that make the reader want to read on! Overall, I rate this book a five out of five.
In this novel, Minli, a young girl who lives in the Village of the Fruitless Mountain is happy, energetic, optimistic, and full of life! Unfortunately, her family is poor and her parents work hard day in and day in out in the fields for minimal food and little money. Their hard labor wears them down and even causes them, especially Ma, to be a pessimist. One thing that always keeps Minli’s spirits up are Ba’s stories that make her dream of good fortune for her family. One day, Minli decides to leave their small home and dull, brown, fruitless village to find fortune for her family. Ma is furious with Ba because she knows he has filled her head with nonsense folklore. Will Ma and Ba ever be reunited with their daughter? Will Minli bring fortune to her family? Choose this book to read in your classroom- aloud or as a class novel- to find out!
Throughout this book, I always teach story elements including: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. We discuss these in great depth and follow up by identifying the difference between static versus dynamic characters.
In addition, the students are asked to complete comprehension questions to guide their understanding. Then during book club, whether as whole group or small groups, our class discusses key events, lessons learned, symbolism, etc. Also, I introduce several reading comprehension strategies throughout this book by using mentor texts, articles, and poems. Students then independently apply these strategies to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and their independent reads.
This fantasy book is a favorite read by most students (and me!). What students really enjoy is how Grace Lynn weaves folklore stories in the actual plot. In addition, the storytelling alternates perspectives each chapter which makes it enjoyable and fun to follow. Throughout the novel, Minli meets many friends, but in the beginning, she meets Dragon, another main character. Since dragons are important in the Chinese culture, my students spend about two days researching about dragons: symbolize, history, what they look like, etc. through a webquest in technology. Then, they create a personal story about how their “dragon” came to be. Within their writing they must include information from their research and of course, details on their dragon’s appearance. Lastly, each student draws their dragon using the descriptive words in their writing as a guide. This is an amazing cross curricular project! It includes writing, research/technology, reading, and social studies! To conclude, we share the stories and hang them outside our room for all to see!
I often try to combine my writer’s and reader’s workshops. I love to teach grammar lessons and have students apply what they’ve learned in an authentic way. For example, during this novel, I teach students about figurative language. We begin first by identifying, pointing out, or making a note of (using a sticky note) when Grace Lynn uses figurative language. This gives our class an opportunity to discuss what she really means to say! Students are taught that sometimes words/phrases don’t mean exactly what they say! Then students begin to use it in their own writing. Boy, does this really give it some spice and make it fun to read!
Lastly, a writing extension is often used for my high readers and strong writers. This optional extension allows students to get creative with their writing as they develop their own folktale story to pair along with one of the main events in the story. This often requires more research about Chinese culture and history. Students have often pulled supplemental texts, articles, and children’s books to help spark their imagination. Once they work through the writing process, they share their folktales with their classmates and explain where this story would fit in the book.