Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Last updated Monday, July 29, 2013

Author: Grace Lin
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 0316114278
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2010

Synopsis: Starred Review. Grade 3-6–Living in the shadow of the Fruitless Mountain, Minli and her parents spend their days working in the rice fields, barely growing enough to feed themselves. Every night, Minli's father tells her stories about the Jade Dragon that keeps the mountain bare, the greedy and mean Magistrate Tiger, and the Old Man of the Moon who holds everyone's destiny. Determined to change her family's fortune, Minli sets out to find the Old Man of the Moon, urged on by a talking goldfish who gives her clues to complete her journey. Along the way she makes new friends including a flightless dragon and an orphan and proves her resourcefulness when she tricks a group of greedy monkeys and gets help from a king. Interwoven with Minli's quest are tales told by her father and by those she meets on the way. While these tales are original to Lin, many characters, settings, and themes are taken from traditional Chinese folklore. The author's writing is elegant, and her full-color illustrations are stunning. Minli's determination to help her family, as well as the grief her parents feel at her absence, is compelling and thoroughly human.–Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Note to readers:
•  Most chapters include a short myth, so if the kids prefer, you can skip the Minli adventure portions of each chapter and go to the myths within many of the chapters. The myths have their own headings within the chapters, so feel free to flip through the later chapters to look for fun or interesting myths. It is a fairly quick read, however, and the kids might also be entertained with the way the myths are woven throughout Minli's adventure. The Story of Fruitless Mountain (p. 4) The Story of the Old Man of the Moon (p. 18) The Story of the Dragon (p. 51) The Story of the Goldfish Man (p. 62) The Story of the Paper of Happiness (p. 81) The Story of the Dragon Gate (p. 92) The Story of the Buffalo Boy's Friend (p. 105) The Unknown Part of the Story of the Old Man of the Moon (p. 136) A String of Destiny (p. 147) The Story the Girl Told the Green Tiger (p. 169) The Story of the Village of the Moon Rain (p. 184) The Story of the Green Tiger and the Tea (p. 195) The Story of Da-A-Fu's Ancestors (p. 210) (Da-Fu and A-Fu are twins; together they are called Da-A-Fu, much as we might say "the twins.") The Story of the Dragon's Pearl (p. 225) The Story of Wu Kang (p. 239) The Story That Ma Told (p. 252)

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  If there's a map or globe, have students find China, then Los Angeles, to see how far away they are.
•  The cover looks like a movie in theaters now, "How to Tame your Dragon". Ask the kids if the book cover reminds them of any movies they have seen.
•  Explain that the story has many myths in it. Ask the children about any myths and/or traditions that are in their family/culture that are passed down. Are they passed down orally or in print? Do they believe the stories/myths in a literal sense, or are they meant more to teach a lesson/explain why something in life is the way it is?
•  While reading Ch. 2: Do any of your names have a meaning you know about? Do you believe in good luck charms? Why does Minli buy the goldfish? Is she being helpful or foolish?
•  While reading Ch. 3 "The Story of the Old Man of the Moon" myth- would you like to look into your future? Have you ever spoken to a fortune teller? P. 20: The Book of Fortune is similar to the Golden Compass in the movie of the same name- ask if the kids have seen the Golden Compass movie, and if they see any similarity to the Book of Fortune
•  While reading Ch. 4 Have you ever caught an animal or insect, then let it go?
•  Ch. 5-7 can be skipped- explain that Minli sneaks away from home on a journey to find the Old Man of the Moon to find fortune for her family, following the directions the goldfish told her. When her parents find her gone, they go looking for her
•  Ch. 9 can be skipped- it's more of the parents journey to find Minli.
•  Ch. 12 can be skipped- it's more of the parents journey to find Minli.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Have you ever felt like Minli?
•  Would you go on a journey to help your family, even if it was scary?
•  Would you have asked your own question or the dragon's like Minli did?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw yourself on a piece of paper, then draw on the same paper or different, small pieces of paper people you know, and connect them by a red thread (or they can use red crayon or cut thin strips of red paper).
•  Bring ahead option: Plastic wrap. Children can draw and decorate a fishbowl. Cut out and decorate Minli's fish that will go inside. When finished, place the fish "in" the fishbowl by placing (do not glue!) the fish on top of the bowl and covering the whole bowl with clear saran/plastic wrap. Tape the plastic wrap to the back of the bowl, and then shake the bowl to have Minli's fish "swim around."

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!