Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Common Sense Media says

Chinese girl's Oz-like adventure begging to be read aloud.




Newbery Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

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

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.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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

Author:Grace Lin
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:July 1, 2009
Number of pages:282
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Read aloud:7
Read alone:9
Award:Newbery Medal and Honors

This review of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was written by

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Parent of a 8 and 8 year old Written bycatspratt designs February 12, 2011

Perfect for all ages....

My 8 year old daughter has read Where the Mt meets the Moon three times. Minli is a positive, hopeful and persistent. It's a beautiful story that shows how adults are capable of changing. The format of the book allows for reading aloud to younger children and holds their attention by completing a tale each chapter while holding their anticipation for the next chapter. My daughter wants to add that she loves the dragon.
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 interested me greatly. I was completely shocked to how fast I finished it! I'm a fast reader, but it took me only two days to get through Minli's fascinating journey! I almost didn't want it to end! I even had this feeling inside after I read it that I absolutely would read it again, which I have. Parents, please don't let the oriental theme get to you. I've talked to many adults who believe that anything associated with Chinese or Japanese culture is occult. I was raised in a Christian family, and I have a very strong, Christian view, and I think this book is incredible. It does apply things about gods, however, it's a stroy about Chinese folklore, so what can you expect? Plus, Minli is a great role model and makes a very tough decision about her friend, Dragon, in the end. Keeps you on your toes and enchants you not only with the story, but with the humor, characters, and not to mention the drawings are astounding! 10/10 stars! One of my favorites!
Kid, 10 years old May 8, 2011

great family book deserves a place in every home!

good book. Me and my 7 year old brother love it. however it is really quite violent. But al together it is a wonderful book and we had a great time reading it with my family!
What other families should know
Great messages


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