A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
JANUARY 28:

  • Happy birthday Vera B. Williams (A Chair for My Mother, "More More More" Said the Baby).
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is first published in the United Kingdom in 1813. Read the mind-bending Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.
  • In 1855 the first locomotive runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean on the Panama Railway. Read Trains by Lynn Curlee.
  • In 1958 the Lego Company patents the design of its Lego bricks, still compatible with the bricks produced today.
  • It’s National Kazoo Day. Read Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair by Lee Fox, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas.

In January we celebrate National Folklore Month. Folklore collections and retellings have tended to be Euro-Centric in books for children, whether retellings from Grimm, Perrault, or the Lang Fairy Books. But after American-born Grace Lin traveled to the land of her ancestors, Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan, she began incorporating the folklore of this land in highly original novels such as Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and our book of the day Starry River of the Sky.

As the book opens, readers learn that “Rendi was not sure how long the moon had been missing. He knew only that for weeks, the wind seemed to be whimpering as if the sky were suffering.” In beautiful, lilting language, Lin tells the story of Rendi who runs away from home, stows away on a cart, and finds himself working as a chore boy at an inn in the Village of Clear Sky. He can’t help but notice how strange all the inhabitants of this place act, and he wonders what became of the innkeeper’s son who ran away. When a mysterious lady guest appears with a gift for telling stories based on Chinese folk tales, all of the inhabitants of the inn begin to experience a change of fortune. Slowly and completely believably Rendi moves from being an angry, self-centered young boy to becoming a hero who embraces the power of forgiveness. For anyone inspired to read more folk tales from this part of the world, Lin has provided an excellent bibliography.

Lin’s text can stand alone as a read aloud. But the physical beauty of the book merits special attention. The author’s sketches in different colors of ink and her glorious full-color paintings have been skillfully incorporated into the book. The elements of design—heavy off-white paper, leading, text block, trim size, type fonts—all have been carefully chosen. Hence the book is pleasing to hold and look at. Writing, art, and design combine to make the reading experience one to be savored and enjoyed.

If anyone has missed the magic of Grace Lin, National Folklore month is a good place to begin. Both Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry Night of the Sky seem poised to enjoy a long and happy life, enchanting one reader after another for many years to come.

 

Here’s a page from Starry River of the Sky:Starry River of the Sky image

 As noiselessly as possible, Rendi scrambled to the back of the cart while the men outside agreed on a price. Rendi squeezed between the two gangs farthest from the opening, the huge clay containers compressing him like meat in a dumpling. The cart opened, and Rendi clasped his bag close to him, feeling the hardness of his rice bowl through the cloth.

 The merchant and the innkeeper struggled to remove a gang, rocking the cart back and forth. Rendi scarcely breathed, and the men grunted as they pushed and shoved. Neither noticed the small figure well hidden in the shadows of the remaining gangs.

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Originally posted January 28, 2013. Updated for .

Tags: Asian American, Folktale, Multicultural
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Starry River of the Sky
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COMMENTS

  1. McCourt says:

    I am so looking forward to this book! My kids and I really enjoyed ‘Where the Mountain Meets the Moon’. I highly recommend it as a read aloud. The chapters aren’t too long, so you can easily squeeze them in even on a busy night. Although with their suspenseful endings, you might get lots of “one more chapter, please!”. Starry River is definitely on our list.

  2. Anita says:

    Also great as a read aloud!

  3. Robin Nyzio says:

    This was an enchanting book! A lovely story that anyone will enjoy!

  4. Greg says:

    From the moment I first saw Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, I knew I had to purchase the book. The design is so beautiful, and I felt the same way about Starry River of the Sky. The writing and the story absolutely live up to the promise of the book’s exterior.

    In addition to the bibliography of Chinese Folk Tales at the end, the author’s note is fascinating as well — Lin describes her anxiety over reimagining traditional Chinese tales, but ultimately comes to this conclusion: “…the Asian culture was just like the characteristics that are attributed to bamboo – strong and flexible. My small adaptations would be at worst harmless and at best a new fresh sprout – and neither could injure the original stalk.”

    Just lovely.

  5. Anita says:

    Greg: Thanks for your comment and this added information.

  6. Karen says:

    Loved “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” and really looking forward to “Starry River of the Sky”. The stories are wonderful and so well woven in…the illustrations beautiful!

    Thank you, Anita, for all the work you put into this site — it is fabulous! Keep up the excellent work!

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