Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
First edition, with Newbery seal
Author Grace Lin
Illustrator Grace Lin
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's fantasy
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 278
ISBN 9780316114271
OCLC 672213061
Followed by When the Sea Turns to Silver

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a fantasy-adventure children's novel inspired by Chinese folklore. It was written and illustrated by Grace Lin and published in 2009.[1][2] The novel received a 2010 Newbery Honor[3] and the 2010 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature.[4] It has been translated into Chinese, French, Hebrew, Romanian and Korean.[5]

Plot summary[edit]

By a bare mountain, where the Jade River runs through, lies a poor, mud-covered village known as the Village of Fruitless Mountain, where the protagonist, Minli lives. Minli is a young ten-year-old girl with a fast and eager spirit, and is constantly ready for adventure. However, what she especially enjoys are her father, Ba's, stories, which are often told at the dinner table. Minli's mother, Ma, instead despises the stories that Ba tells, feeling that they are simply "nonsense" and also is full of bitterness and resentment due to their poverty.

All the villagers, along with them, are also very poor, as farming is difficult in the hard and dry land due to Fruitless Mountain being the broken and lonely heart of the immortal Jade Dragon, a dragon that once brought rain to the Earth. Thus, there is barely enough rice to feed the people there, causing Minli to develop a wish for good fortune.

After spending some money on a goldfish much to the displeasure of Ma, Minli receives directions from it to Never-Ending Mountain, where a wise man known as the Old Man of the Moon lives and he can answer Minli's question on how to bring good fortune to her family and the village. The following day, Minli then sets out, freeing the goldfish so as not to burden her parents further, and leaves the village. When her parents find out she is gone, they try to look for her, but are stopped by the goldfish seller, who tells them to trust Minli. Meanwhile, Minli sleeps for the night in the forest, only to wake up to find a trapped dragon, and saves him. They become friends on the way, and Dragon offers to be her steed for the journey despite the fact that he cannot fly, unlike other dragons. Dragon also reveals that he was born from a painting, and came to life when his eyes were painted.

Along the way, they encounter selfish monkeys, whom Minli manages to trick them into letting them pass, and enters the City of Bright Moonlight, where she leaves Dragon in a cave and takes refuge in a boy's home instead. The boy is poor and has nothing but a buffalo, but helps her find the king, whom she needs something known as the borrowed line from, which is essential to find the Old Man of the Moon. She ultimately meets the king, and he willingly gives up the borrowed line, which is revealed to be a page from the Book of Fortune, a legendary book that tells of fates and can only be read by immortal folk. Outside the city, Dragon also obtains a red string of destiny that is used to tie people destined to meet and marry together from the stone lions guarding the gate, which he believes is the borrowed line. The two then meet and after relating their adventures, set off once again, puzzled as to which is the real borrowed line.

Meanwhile, at the Village of Fruitless Mountain, Ba and Ma have decided to return home and wait for Minli, and during this time, Ma feels remorse for having been so discontent when she already had her own precious treasure: Minli.

On the journey, Dragon tries to protect Minli from a poisonous Green Tiger, but gets injured in the process, and would have died had Minli not sought help from a mountain village nearby. A pair of twins from the village also manage to kill the Green Tiger, and after spending the night together in the village, which is known as the Village of Moon Rain, set off to Never-Ending Mountain, which is revealed to be very close to the village. The twins Da-Fu and A-Fu take them there, and explain that their village's name is due to raining seeds that fall from the moon every night, allowing flowering trees to bloom there, which is also the antidote to the Green Tiger's poison. Using the two borrowed lines, they stitch a kite which stretches into a bridge and Minli goes on alone to meet the Old Man of the Moon. However, he informs her that she can only ask one question, and after contemplating her choices, chooses to ask Dragon's question for him: Why can he not fly? In the end, Minli asked the right question, for after yanking the ball weighting Dragon down and getting sent home, she realizes that what she had collected was a dragon's pearl worth a king's fortune, and Fruitless Mountain had turned green with rich vegetation and good land as Jade Dragon had finally been reunited with her child: Dragon! Even though Dragon had been born from a painting, the ink used to paint him was rubbed from a special inkstone – the mountain rock!

At the end of the story, Minli understands that fortune is not riches or gold, but something much more. To have fortune is to be happy, and to be happy, be thankful for whatever you have and do with your friends.


Jennifer Rothschild from School Library Journal stated in her review: "The author's writing is elegant, and her full-color illustrations are stunning."[6]

Andrew Medlar from Booklist said: "Lin creates a strong, memorable heroine & mystical land [...] children will embrace this [...] story..." [6]


A companion, titled Starry River of the Sky, was published on February 11, 2014. [7] On August 20, 2015, Lin announced the sequel to the novel, titled When the Sea Turns to Silver. The new book was published on October 4, 2016. [8] [9]


In August 2015, Lin revealed that the film rights for the book had been bought. However, she is still not sure if the film will be made or if it will not be made. She thinks it will be made from 2020 to 2025. If not by then, the film will probably not be made at all.

Theatrical performance[edit]

A stage adaptation based on Lin's book was performed at Wheelock Family Theater in Boston, in April 2014. The performance starred Caroline Workman as Minli, Michael Tow as Storyteller/ Minli's Ba, and was directed by Jane Staab. [10]


According to Journal of Education, Grace Lin is the "best-selling author of The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat".[11]

External links[edit]