Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is the story of Minli, a young peasant girl who is not satisfied with her life in a small village at the foot of Fruitless Mountain. As she sets out to find her fortune, a talking goldfish gives her directions. Along the way she meets a friendly dragon who cannot fly. Grace Lin combines elements of Chinese fairytales, handed down from her mother, and fantasy into a series of original parables. Destiny, harmony and identity are the keys to the fortune that Minli seeks. Lin captures the underlying question: What is it that brings contentment?
Cultural literacy consists of learning how to read, write and speak the language of a specific culture. It also encompasses history, religion, and social customs. The heart of a culture is its stories, passed down from generation to generation.
I recommend Where the Mountain Meets the Moon wholeheartedly because the language is representative of a legacy born of storytelling, combining cultures and literacy in a novel for children. Once I began this Newbery Honor book, the intricate path to Minli's destiny kept me reading. Everything came together in the end . . . in one word! You will have to read the book to find out what the word is!
The Lightning Queen by Laura Resau is a youth novel inspired by two cultures, the Rom and the Mixtec Indians. Resau integrates Mexican Spanish, Mixteco and Romani vocabulary flawlessly, alternating between the present and the past, every other chapter. Similar to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, the main character is seeking his fortune, however, it's realistic fiction and the setting is rural Mexico. Both of these books are available at the Virginia Beach Public Library.
The Kids Edition of CultureGrams, an online resource accessible from the Virginia Beach Public Library includes photos, interviews and recipes from China and Mexico. You can explore the Kids Edition and get a glimpse of daily life in more than 200 countries around the world!
Review by Sandi H.