Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Book review by
Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Chinese girl's Oz-like adventure begging to be read aloud.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 14 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some educational value about Chinese folktales; although these tales are new, they draw upon traditional elements.

Positive Messages

Overall messages are be happy with what you are and that money will not bring happiness; also that compassion, intelligence, and courage may bring rewards of their own.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Minli is a very positive role model. She goes on her quest to help find fortune for her parents because they are so good to her. Despite her hard life, Minli is well-loved, quick, and brave. She makes friends on her quest, and never puts her happiness ahead of theirs.


A tiger injures a dragon, plus a mention that the tiger had terrorized a village by killing livestock and injuring some hunters.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a charming fantasy with very low violence, making it a great family read-aloud for various ages. Minli's quest not only introduces her to many lessons about greed, but her mother also learns to value what is most important as she anxiously waits for her daughter to return.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byEHaralamos April 24, 2020

Great read aloud!!!

Love these books! My 7 and 8 year old daughters wouldn't allow me to put this book down, and even their four year old brother enjoyed listening. We'v... Continue reading
Parent Written bygrandmareader December 18, 2018

Newbery Honor Book with a Wonderful Story to Tell

Young Minli is tired of listening to her mother's profound sighs regarding their poverty and watching her parents work so hard with such meager fruits of t... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTarrafin506 March 7, 2019
I think this story was okay but it was lacking adventure and it was hard to follow along. But the stories that the dad told I did like and it added more fun t... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBethany506 March 7, 2019

Kind of slow, but good

This is a good book but it is kinda slow. It is not as adventurous as I thought it would be. I think it has a good message for readers and Minli is a good role... Continue reading

What's the story?

Minli is a young girl who is an only child in a very poor family in China. She helps her parents work hard in the fields all day long every day. At night her father loves to tell her stories, but her mother is full of sighs and complaints about their hard life. One day, to help find fortune for her beloved parents, Minli sets off to seek out a character from one of her father's tales known as the Old Man in the Moon. To find him, she must travel far away to the Never Ending Mountain. Along the way she meets a dragon who longs to fly, an orphaned shepherd boy, and a prince, and befriends them all. In return, they help her solve some riddles and help her find her way. In the meantime, Minli's parents are desperate for her return, but her father's stories and a talking goldfish help them cope, and Minli finds a different kind of fortune than she expected.

Is it any good?

This is a a beautiful book that is bound to become a classic. Lin's love of Asian culture is evident in her creation of vivid new folktales that are built into the narrative in such a way that they become a seamless part of the story and their messages are thus relevant and meaningful. Minli is a strong and lovable heroine that boys will enjoy as much as girls. This story has been called a Chinese Wizard of Oz, but in fact it has an even more timeless appeal and a universal story in the mother who wants more, the daughter who wants to repay her parents, the wise father, and the engaging characters she meets on her quest. The story also offers an elegant design with color illustrations and Asian graphic style that make the book itself a gem. Many children will read this book more than once, and it could well be one of your favorite Newbery books of all time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what caused Minli to set off on her quest. What made her mother unhappy? 
  • Of all the friends Minli made on her journey, who was your favorite? Are there dragons from other books or stories that remind you of this flying dragon?

  • Minli's parents were very different, although they lived in the same conditions. What do you think made Minli's mother unhappy with what she had? What made her change towards the end of the book? Was it Minli's absence, or her father's stories?

  • The folktales that Minli's father tells were created by the author, Grace Lin, although they were based on elements of traditional Chinese folktales. There are many American folktales, such as Paul Bunyan. Do American folktales teach lessons in the same way that these Chinese folktales do?

Book details

For kids who love fantasy adventures

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