A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some educational value about Chinese folktales; although these tales are new, they draw upon traditional elements.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
A tiger injures a dragon, plus a mention that the tiger had terrorized a village by killing livestock and injuring some hunters.
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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.
Is It Any Good?
This beautiful book is bound to become a classic. Lin's love of Chinese 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 hero 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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.