Grace Lin •
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon •
I never expected to fall for a dragon.
But when the lady dragon shows up on page 261, smiling coquettishly and actually winking—winking! how dare she!—at Dragon, I was quite put out. The brazen hussy!
Because by that point I was as deeply attached to Dragon as Minli is. Minli grows up in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain, where crops fail and the Jade River runs murky. Inspired by her father’s endless stories and the advice of a talking goldfish, one day she sets out to change the family’s fortune. Each being Minli encounters on her way—the buffalo boy, the Old Man of the Moon, the stone lion, Dragon himself—has another tale to tell, adding layers of depth until the book becomes a whole compendium of original folklore.
Leaving a poor village whose inhabitants have befriended her, Minli is given a warm jacket for her journey. She can’t imagine where the fabric has come from—until the villagers lift their arms to wave goodbye, and she sees that each of them is missing a piece of sleeve.
Just as China is said to be the Middle Kingdom, suspended halfway between heaven and earth, so Lin’s writing incorporates traditional elements while appealing to modern sensibilities. The classic motifs of magical animals, royalty in disguise, and heavenly bodies personified complement herbal remedies, wordplay, and dragon romance (that trollop!).
After disavowing her Asian heritage as a child, Lin later began embellishing Chinese folk tales with characters and images of her own, including the lovely illustrations that accompany the text here. With its clear, cadenced prose, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon establishes a new standard in lyric storytelling.