Title: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Author: Grace Lin
Narrator: Janet Song
Pages: 278 pages
CDs/Discs: 4 CDs, 4 hours, 57 minutes
Publisher/Date: Random House, Inc., Listening Library, c2010.
Living with her mother and father in a small and sparse mountain village, young Minli toils with them over the land to yield the bare minimum of food. Minli enjoys listening to her father’s stories of dragons and the Old Man on the Moon, but she can’t block out her mother’s discontented sighs for greater wealth. Taking it upon herself to improve her family’s fortune, Minli sneaks away from her home in search of the Old Man on the Moon. Her journey is anything but easy, as she encounters magic around every turn that test her strength and resilience.
I was pleasantly surprised by the narration. Janet Song does not distinguish the character voices so they are instantly recognizable. Instead, her soothing tone makes you feel like you’re being read a bed time story or sitting around a camp fire with your family. It’s an intimate experience where you can envision she’s talking right to you, and I thought she was a perfect choice for this story that’s essentially a string of inter-connected shorter stories. This book is perfect for bed time reading as the sections are quite short and snippets can be read as desired or as time dictates.
While I absolutely loved the audiobook, readers of the physical book get an extra treat with author Grace Lin’s beautiful illustrations. The jacket art is just a preview of her skills, as each chapter is preceded by a line drawing of an object or event portrayed in the story. Interspersed amongst the chapters are full color illustrations that portray in vivid detail the scenes described. You can apparently buy prints of these illustrations from the author through etsy, like this one, which is one of my favorite: http://www.etsy.com/listing/60892565/the-dragon-gate-print
Grace Lin weaves these stories together effortlessly, as one segues into another and they all come together at the end. The alternating points of view give listeners and readers a glimpse into not only Minli’s perspective, but also takes turns showing us the thoughts and feelings of Minli’s parents and other characters, including a dragon. This gives readers a connection to all the stories. A wonderful, understated gem of book that sparkles from the inside, it has a satisfying happy ending that is a result of unexpected actions.
I hope someone used this Newbery Honor Book for their Summer Reading program of One World Many Stories, because this would have coincided well with that theme.