In the valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli's mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.
I loved this book! It is a gentle read, full of adventure and distinctly fairy tale-feeling. The good kind of fairy tales, where virtues are rewarded and vices are punished, by the very nature of those vices and virtues. For example, in order to get past a bunch of greedy monkeys, Minli tricks them into reaching through netting to steal her pot of rice. Their paws can fit going in, but they are unable to withdraw their paws when full of rice. Because they are greedy, they won't let go, and are thus trapped. I love that!
Minli is a fantastic character, strong and full of faith. I loved Dragon, her dragon friend. Har har. I loved how the story mostly follows Minli, but sometimes goes back to her parents, who undergo their own steady character arc. I love the settings, the understated magic, the stories come to life, and the message at the end.
Five out of five goldfish.
Release Date: July 2009
Reading Level: Grade 3+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: CAUDILL