Posted tagged ‘China’

Where the Mountain meets the Moon by Grace Lin

March 16, 2010

Words that come to mind when describing this year’s Newbery Award runner-up: enchanted, elegant, exciting, timeless, beautiful…

Minli (whose name means “quick thinking”) and her parents live in the shadow of Fruitless Mountain, in China. They work hard in the rice fields yet they are still very poor, with barely enough rice to eat. Minli’s mother worries and complains about their hard life, but her father brightens their evenings with storytelling. One day Minli sets out to find the Old Man of the Moon, hoping he will tell her the true secret to good fortune. Along the way she makes new friends including a flightless dragon, an orphan, a group of greedy monkeys, and a king. Interwoven with Minli’s quest are tales told by her father and by those she meets on the way, which are drawn from traditional Chinese folklore. The author’s full-color illustrations are stunning. Grace Lin has created a strong, likeable heroine and a fascinating glimpse of another country.

Little Leap Forward: a Boy in Beijing

September 1, 2009

urlBased on the author’s childhood, this is a beautifully written glimpse into China in the 1960’s. A young boy named Little Leap Forward lives in a traditional courtyard in Beijing with his siblings and kind, loving mother. His father, who passed away two years ago, was a musician, and Leap Forward hopes to be one, too. He and his best friend fly kites and skim stones along the river. One day they capture a tiny yellow bird, and Leap Forward decides to keep it as a pet and write down the notes she sings. The little bird will not sing, though, even with all the special treats it receives, and Leap Forward must consider the costs of his denying the bird its freedom. This sweet tale is interwoven with a more serious story about growing up in the early years of the People’s Republic of China at the very beginning of the Cultural Revolution. Because food is still scarce, many items are rationed, and family members such as Leap Forward must use ration tickets and wait in long lines when they purchase food. The Cultural Revolution ushers in the Red Guards, with some sad consequences for Leap Forward and a girl he is fond of, named Blue. Because the story is told from a young child’s perspective, there is nothing graphic or “too mature” for an elementary school audience. This book would be a wonderful choice for a family read-aloud, giving parents an opportunity to broaden their child’s understanding about a far away land and time.