A gorgeous fantasy quest, rich in Chinese folklore and told in simple, evocative language. Minli’s poor mother and father toil in the shadow of a barren mountain all day, her mother especially bemoaning their fate. Minli becomes determined to reverse their bad fortune. After an encounter with a talking fish and encouraged by her father’s stories, she sets out one day to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him to help. Along the way she encounters a flightless dragon, a King and a ferocious green tiger. The narrative of Minli’s journey is interspersed with tales that illuminate the back-story of these characters and the whole adds up beautifully to a story where Minli and her family realise what is truly important–each other. Beautifully illustrated by the multi-talented author herself, this would make a lovely class read or a wonderful gift for a child who likes fantasy and myth. I plan to read more of Grace Lin (Starry River of the Sky and When the Sea Turned to Silver are in the same vein and The Year of the Dog and sequels are tales about growing up as a Chinese-American kid which will resonate with many). A Newbery Honor winner. 8+
Here’s Grace Lin’s TedX talk on the windows and mirrors of your child’s bookshelf.