Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

Book Review: Where The Mountain Meets The Moon By Grace Lin

By: Isha R. Nair

Hear from one of our passionate readers!

Mythology has always been one of my favorite genres as it has enabled me to learn more about the various traditions of diverse cultures. It truly is astonishing to hear stories explaining the mysteries of history and modern science in an enthralling way. Grace Lin’s books have dived deep into the world of Chinese myths, while retaining links to Chinese culture. I found it interesting that these books are based on the important Chinese lucky numbers (6, 8, 9) which are hidden in paintings to bring luck to those who receive them. This blend of ancient heritage with a modern writing style makes this a unique and interesting read for everyone and glued me to my seat!

Lin has written three interwoven books in this series. The first book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, inspired by lucky number 8 or good fortune is about a story-loving girl Minli’s quest to change the fortune of her poor family. Minli and her family lived on the Fruitless Mountain, a mountain which bore not a single healthy rice crop. Dissatisfied with her family’s fortune, she writes a letter to her parents and leaves home, to try and make the Fruitless Mountain green by visiting the Old Man of the Moon, whom she believes knows answers to everything. She travels into the woods, where she meets many magical friends including a Dragon, who’s only wish was to fly. She and the Dragon team up together to try and get to the Never-Ending Mountain, each  hoping  fervently that their wishes come true only to face a mind wracking dilemma. Readers will really enjoy the unexpected turn of events!

The second book Starry River of the Sky revolves around Rendi, a boy who has run away from his home in a wine cart. He soon becomes a chore boy at a broke-down inn, where he meets Madame Chang, a calm and beautiful lady who teaches him about the importance of stories and Mr. Shan, an old crazy man who calls his pet toad a rabbit. Soon Rendi gets into a state of confusion and doubt when he hears groaning and crying noises at night and to add to this mystery, the moon is never to be seen in the sky. Rendi is determined to find out the truth behind these strange occurrences — but will he? Will this companion novel written based on the lucky number 6, representing peace bring in harmony to Rendi’s mind? This book will help you to find out the story behind the Moon’s disappearance and what Rendi had to do to bring it back. Starry River of the Sky is very relatable to those of us who enjoy imaginative adventures involving friends. 

The last book of the series, When the Sea Turned to Silver, takes us on the adventure of Pinmei, a young girl growing up on the Never-Ending Mountain. One day, the emperor kidnaps her grandmother to see if she knows the secret to immortality which is symbolized by lucky number 9. Pinmei immediately embarks on a journey to rescue her. She meets many friends along the way, and realized that for a land of peace, the emperor must be overthrown. This book reminds you of the stories in Indian mythology where Good overcomes Evil and no matter how powerful the villain is, the protagonist always defeats him through honesty and intelligence.

Lin has masterfully woven stories into the plot and left me awed by the magnificence of the scenes that she has painted so vividly using simple, yet beautiful prose, lovely full-page illustrations reminiscent of Chinese murals and vibrant chapter decorations. These provide a rich cultural and magical context to the story and make us feel as though we are listening to a live story telling session. This series has helped me learn about interesting Chinese traditions and the beliefs behind them, which I never knew before such as the parade of the dog bride and drawing the Wang symbol to protect children from the Noxious Animals. I am sure most of you will be surprised and may be able to relate to your own traditions as you read them. And interestingly, each of her books ends with the title!

Grace Lin’s magical books are a must read for children from the ages of 9 to 12. They remind us of a lot of the values that is associated with friendship like empathy, understanding, bravery, loyalty and being ready to sacrifice for your friend... that is what real friendship and love is all about. 

I especially loved a quote in ‘Where the Mountain Meets the Moon about love: ‘For all the time that I had been longing for treasures, I already had the one most precious.’

Inspired to write your own book review? Let us know! Still searching for the perfect book to capture your imagination and get those creative juices flowing? Check out one of our many book recommendation lists. Still not sure? Then watch our interview with none other than Marcus Zuzak, author of The Book Thief, down below.

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Isha Rajeev Nair is a student at Kings School Nad Al Sheba. A voracious reader from a very young age, Isha believes in exploring multiple genres and has been an influence in her peers' reading choices. Her interests include writing poetry and she has had her poems published on various platforms and is about to publish her first book of poetry. Among her many accomplishments is her position as an India Book of Records Title Holder, as well as being a double winner of the Browzly competition. She is also the youngest winner of the BSME Ed Goodwin Award. Isha is committed to social causes and is a brand ambassador for the student-led eco-initiative Green Gratitude and Water Alliance.