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 8+
Based on 17 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byleekp June 12, 2013

Strong female protagonist, good family dynamics & good values

We really enjoyed this book. It features a positive role model in Mingli. Mingli is a young girl who goes on a hero's quest in pursuit of a better life f... Continue reading
Adult Written byZeexo October 28, 2011

Third Grade Read Aloud

Excellent story for character and vocabulary development
Short chapters for easy read aloud
Exciting and adventurous some violence as mentioned but nothing like... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLilypenny January 1, 2013

A Must Read!

I bought this book at my twice a year scholastic book fair. I'm a huge fan of oriental culture, (particularily Japanese), however this book still intereste... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old February 25, 2021

Beautiful Intertwined Stories

I LOVED it! I really think you should read it!

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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy adventures

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate