Written by Grace Lin
Paperback 304 pages
Genre Fantasy (Asian inspired)
Awarded Newbery Honor
Recommended for Boys and girls ages 8-12;
For ages 6 and up as a lengthy read aloud;
Classrooms and home schools studying ancient or medieval China
This is one of the most enchanting, elegant children's novels I've ever read. Adding to the charm of the text are the colorful illustrations done by the author sprinkled through the book. It's a rare author who can illustrate, and Grace Lin is one of them.
Our story begins near Fruitless Mountain where Minli lives with her practical Ma and storytelling Ba. They spend all day tending the rice fields, and each day they have just enough to eat.
One day a goldfish man passes through the village. When he tells Minli that goldfish bring good fortune, she buys one, then regrets it when her Ma scolds her about having another mouth to feed.
One of the stories her father told her was about the Man in the Moon. Minli decides to find him, convinced he can change their families fortunes. There's just one problem: no one knows where to find him. That's where a talking goldfish comes in handy . . .
Along the way, Minli meets a dragon, some greedy monkeys, a boy with a buffalo, and an Emperor. It turns out that her father isn't the only one who has stories to tell. This book is full of little stories within the story, each as delightful as the last.
Along the way, Minli grows wiser. What she wants most by the end isn't what she thought it would be, and yet, because of the things that got set right along her journey, she discovers the secret to making Fruitless Mountain into Fruitful Mountain.