Where The Mountain Meets The Moon Summary

Grace Lin

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon

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Where The Mountain Meets The Moon Summary

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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a children’s fantasy novel by Chinese-American author Grace Lin, first published in 2009. Minli, a young girl, lives in a small hut with her parents. Her father frequently regales her with folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon, who supposedly knows the secrets of life. Inspired by these stories, Minli begins an epic quest to find the Old Man of the Moon to get the answers she needs to help her struggling family, encountering perils, lessons, and strange and wondrous allies along the way. Exploring themes of family, hope, mystery, courage, and classic Chinese folk tales, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was critically acclaimed upon its release and received a 2010 Newbery Honor, as well as the 2010 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. It has been translated into multiple languages, including Chinese, French, Hebrew, and Korean. Two sequels have been released: Starry River of the Sky, a companion book released in 2014 and When the Sea Turns to Silver, a sequel released in 2016. The rights have been optioned for a major motion picture currently in development, and a stage adaptation has been mounted and performed at Wheelock Family Theater in Boston.

The Jade River runs by a mountain, overlooking a poverty-stricken village known as the Village of Fruitless Mountain. This is where Minli, a young girl with a bold spirit and kind heart, lives. Despite her humble life, she is constantly ready for adventure and eagerly eats up the stories from her father, Ba. Ba frequently tells fantastical stories of Chinese folklore at the dinner table, but Minli’s mother, Ma, hates these stories. She is filled with anger and resentment at their hard life and tells Minli that the stories are nothing but nonsense, not believing anyone is coming to help them. The entire village is struggling in poverty just like Minli’s family; legend says that this is because the Fruitless Mountain is actually the heart of the lonely and immortal Jade Dragon. The dragon supposedly once brought rain to the Earth, but it has since abandoned humankind. Due to the drought, there is barely enough rice to keep the people alive; this leads Minli to make a wish for good fortune for her family and her village.

Minli buys a goldfish one day, and despite her mother scolding her for wasting money, this turns out to be good fortune when the goldfish speaks to her, giving her directions to Never-Ending Mountain, where a wise man named the Old Man of the Moon lives. He has the answer to every question. Minli decides to set out for the mountain the next day. She frees the goldfish, leaves the village, and heads off to the mountain. Minli’s parents look for her, but the goldfish seller stops them, telling them to trust their daughter. Minli sleeps in the forest and then comes across a trapped dragon. She rescues him, and the dragon offers to serve as her steed on her journey. The dragon cannot fly, unlike most dragons, and reveals that he came from a painting, coming to life when his eyes were painted. He and Minli become good friends.

On their journey, they encounter a pack of selfish monkeys, whom Minli has to outwit. They arrive at the City of Bright Moonlight, where Minli takes shelter in the house of a poor local boy. The boy has nothing to his name but a buffalo, but helps her anyway and takes her to the king. The legend says that the king has something called “the borrowed line,” which is essential to find the Old Man of the Moon. This turns out to be a page from the legendary Book of Fortune, which tells people’s fates and can only be properly read by immortal beings. The king gives the page to Minli willingly. Outside the city, while waiting for her, Dragon obtains a red string of destiny that is used to bind people together in love. He gets this from the stone dragons guarding the city. Dragon and Minli meet up again, share their adventures, and head off, neither sure who has the actual borrowed line. Back at the Village of Fruitless Mountain, Minli’s parents wait for her, and Ma begins to realize she did not understand that the most precious treasure was with her all along—her daughter.

As their journey continues, Dragon is injured while protecting Minli from a poisonous Green Tiger. Minli saves him by getting help from a nearby mountain village. The pair of twins from the Village of Moon Rain helps kill the Green Tiger, and the twins, Da-Fu and A-Fu, join them on their journey. They explain that the village’s name is due to seeds that rain from the moon every night. The flowering trees that bloom are also the antidote to the Green Tiger’s poison. They head to Never-Ending Mountain by stitching together a kite using the two borrowed lines. Using it as a bridge, they send Minli on ahead to the Old Man of the Moon. When she meets him, he tells her that she can only ask one question. She thinks, and chooses to ask the question Dragon told her he wanted to be answered—Why can he not fly? Minli is given a strange green pearl and sent home, and Dragon heads off himself. When she returns, she is shocked to see that Fruitless Mountain is now a green paradise filled with vegetation. Jade Dragon’s heart is alive again because she has been reunited with her child—Dragon! The mountain rock of Fruitless Mountain was used in the painting that created Dragon. The strange green pearl is a dragon’s pearl, worth a fortune. Minli and her family will never be poor again, but she realizes that true fortune is to be happy and to be thankful for whatever you have and do with those you love.

Grace Lin is an American children’s author and illustrator. The author of twenty-five children’s novels, including the Ling & Ting series and the Pacy series, she is best known for her three-part critically acclaimed series set around Chinese folklore, which began with Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. In addition to her 2010 Newbery Honor, she has received awards from the Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature and the Texas Bluebonnet Award.