"Every night the stars filled the sky like snowflakes falling on black stone and then melted away as the sun mounted" (p. 256).China becomes a magical place as we follow a girl named Minli on a journey to change her family's fortune. The opening words of the book show us an unappealing place.
"Far away from here, following the Jade River, there was once a black mountain that cut into the sky like a jagged piece of rough metal. The villagers called it Fruitless Mountain because nothing grew on it and birds and animals did not rest there. Crowded in the corner of where Fruitless Mountain and the Jade River met was a village that was a shade of faded brown. This was because the land around the village was hard and poor" (p. 1).Minli and her family are introduced on the next page.
"One of the houses in his village was so small that its wood boards, held together by the roof, made one think of a bunch of matches tied with a piece of twine. Inside, there was barely enough room for three people to sit around the table -- which was lucky because only three people lived there. One of them was a young girl called Minli" (p. 2).And now I'll share a taste of the visual art Grace Lin gives us. I discovered this sequence of images -- seeing the place become the sketch and then, when painted, the final illustration of the imperial garden (p. 134) -- at the Paper Tiger Blog. There you can read an interview with Grace Lin, who shared her artistic process.
The Story of Fruitless Mountain (p. 4)My favorite picture (found on p. 279) is shown below. Isn't it beautiful? You'll have to read the book to know what it depicts. My rating of the book is 9 of 10.
The Story of the Old Man of the Moon (p. 18)
The Story of the Dragon (p. 51)
The Story of the Goldfish Man (p. 62)
The Story of the Paper of Happiness (p. 81)
The Story of the Dragon Gate (p. 92)
The Story of the Buffalo Boy's Friend (p. 105)
The Unknown Part of the Story of the Old Man of the Moon (p. 136)
A String of Destiny (p. 147)
The Story the Girl Told the Green Tiger (p. 169)
The Story of the Village of the Moon Rain (p. 184)
The Story of the Green Tiger and the Tea (p. 195)
The Story of Da-A-Fu's Ancestors (p. 210)
(Da-Fu and A-Fu are twins; together they are called Da-A-Fu, much as we might say "the twins.")The Story of the Dragon's Pearl (p. 225)
The Story of Wu Kang (p. 239)
The Story That Ma Told (p. 252)