I've seen raves for Grace Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon all over the internet and the local libraries, but I've resisted it. I thought her contemporary books were okay; nice little stories with amusing but slightly annoying protagonists. Maybe I've just been slightly down on my own amusing but slightly annoying third graders. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I really liked the new book, and I'm wishing I had read it earlier because I'd really like P to read it before I turn it in.
There's nothing ground-breaking in the tale; a girl sets off to make her fortune, leaving her impoverished family bereft without her. She makes friends, including a land-locked dragon, a disguised king, and an orphaned buffalo boy. But the book is interlaced with stories; almost every chapter has a story, told by any of the characters, many of them about the Man in the mountain where the girl's quest leads. Yes, she learns some Valuable Lessons, but the biggest lesson of all is the importance and beauty of stories.
I showed some of the book to my third grader, and he thought the format very attractive -- short chapters, many of them broken up by the interior stories. This is a book that calls out to be read, to be read aloud, to be share-read within families. This book is perfect for my Young Reader Challenge. A.