A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday John Wallner (Hail Stones and Halibut Bones).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Walt Morey (1907â€“1992), Gentle Ben, Joan Lowery Nixon (1927â€“2003), Nightmare, and painter Norman Rockwell (1894â€“1978). Read Norman Rockwell: Storyteller With a Brush by Beverly Gherman.
- In 1690, the Massachusetts colony issues first paper money in America. Read A Smart Girlâ€™s Guide to Money: How To Make It, Save It, and Spend It by Nancy Holyoke, illustrated by Ali Douglass.
- Boy Scout Anniversary Week begins today. Read The Official Handbook for Boys: The First Boy Scout Handbook, originally published in 1911.
The sixteen-day celebration of Chinese New Year, marking the year of the Wood Horse, began on January 31. If you want to prepare for this event there is a perfect book to read, published only a few years ago.
What does it mean to be a Chinese-American, particularly if most traces of your native culture have vanished from your life? When writer Grace Lin traveled to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China to answer this question, she immersed herself in the legends and folktales of the country. Just as other authors before her (Jean Fritz or Allen Say) hunted for their roots by creating childrenâ€™s books, Grace took her own personal journey and wrote one of the best books of the twenty-first century, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.
Of all the books I have read in the last few years, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon stands as good a chance of becoming a classic as any book in this time period. A Newbery Honor book that adults and children adore, the story works for independent reading or for reading aloud in both families and second through sixth grade classrooms. It is a particularly good choice for sharing because the short chapters, filled with action and lyrical language, can be enjoyed just one or a few at a time. Wherever you end the narrative, young readers want it picked up again.
In a land conjured up from Chinese folklore, a young girl Minli lives in poverty with her parents in the dull, brown village where Fruitless Mountain and the Jade River meet. Although poor in possessions, her father is rich in imagination, telling her wonderful stories of folklore and adventure. In a plot that perfectly follows the pattern of the hero quest as outlined by Joseph Campbell, Minli sets off to find the Old Man in the Moon and ask him for good fortune for her family. Her journey brings her the friendship of a dragon, a visit with the King, the help of a family that has learned the formula for perfect happiness, and, finally, a chance to make one request of the Old Man. In the end, all of the stories intersect to provide a completely satisfying and touching conclusion.
For this polished and well-crafted text, the publisher has gone the extra mile in terms of book design. Beautiful, thick ivory paper, full-color artwork, and elegant typography add to the enjoyment of reading the book. Not only does the book seem timeless in both story and content, it looks like the kind of book that can be kept on a bookshelf, proudly, for a long, long time.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon reminds us that our best books for children can borrow from tradition and mine literature already in existence, if they do so in an original way. For children, after all, books always seem â€śnew.â€ťÂ Thank you Grace Lin for this absolutely spectacular story, one worth reading and rereading every new year.
Hereâ€™s a passage from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon:
Once when there were no rivers on the earth, the Jade Dragon was in charge of clouds. She decided when and where the clouds would rain upon the land and when they would stop. She was very proud of her power and of the reverence the people of earth paid her. Jade Dragon had four dragon children, Pearl, Yellow, Long, and Black. They were large and strong and good and kind. They helped Jade Dragon with her work, and whenever they flew in the sky she was overwhelmed with love and pride.
Originally posted February 3, 2011. Updated for .