"Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" Book Review & Giveaway

By Shannon Gosney
In Book Review
June 30, 2009
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I had the opportunity to review a copy of the book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. The story takes place in the Valley of Fruitless Mountain, where a you girl named Minli spends her days working in the fields. Her nights are special to her because that is when she gets to hear her father spin amazing tales about the Old Man of the Moon and the Jade Dragon. Minli’s mother, however, is tired of the poor life they live and gets frustrated with Minli’s father for filling their daughter’s head with such nonsense.

Minli believes the stories her father tells her and decides to go on a journey to find the Old Man of the Moon, hoping to ask him how her family can change their fortune. On her journey, she encounters an assortment of characters and magical creatures. Along the way, she even finds a dragon who keeps her company on her quest to find the Old Man on the Moon.

It’s an amazing book with beautiful artwork on the cover and throughout! Grace Lin is also the author of Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat. Her story Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a story of fantasy crossed with Chinese Folklore. You’ll appreciate the full-color illustrations featured throughout her book. This is a book you won’t want to miss.

Here is her book trailer:


I had the opportunity to ask Grace Lin a few questions and here are her answers:

What inspired you to write When the Mountain Meets the Moon?

I grew up in Upstate New York, the only Asian (except for my sisters) in my school. Because of this, my childhood was always tinged with a strange sense of identity. Was I Chinese? Taiwanese? American? Books and stories were always a source of comfort. I loved folktales and fairytales as a child. I love the classics East of the Sun, West of the Moon, The Light Princess, and The Wizard of Oz – all with gorgeous illustrations, which I devoured and gazed at in awe. It was because of my love for these stories that my mother knew she could pique my interest with the Chinese fairytale books. At the time, she regretted that I knew and had so little interest in our cultural heritage – this was a way of “sneaking” it in. And it worked!

I began reading the Chinese folktales and was at first disappointed. Used to lush illustrations and descriptions, the Asian books were plainly translated with an occasional simple b/w line drawing and seemed an inadequate comparison. However, slowly I discovered the stories had a magic and I began to image details of my own, tinged with Asian-American sensibilities. When I grew older and was able to travel to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China – the stories came alive. And that’s when Where the Mountain Meets the Moon came into existence. An homage to the folktales and fairytales I read in my youth, it is a mixture of Asian fairytales and North American classics. Not a traditional retelling of stories from either cultures, it is a mix – like me, Asian-American. Hopefully, it is full of the magic from both that will satisfy readers everywhere.

What message do you want readers to come away with after reading When the Mountain Meets the Moon?

I am always a tad reluctant to tell the message, as I am happy when readers come up with their own interpretations and understanding of the story. But, I guess what I wanted to convey was that as long as you have someone to love and are loved, you are lucky and have a fortune you should be thankful for. This is something I truly believe.

Do you have plans for future books?

My next books will be Ling and Ting. It is an early reader (which is a format I have been wanting to try for a while) about Chinese-American twins. It is almost the reverse theme of Year of the Dog, using twins, I am trying to show how ever when people look the same they can be different. After that, I have a picture book on the Moon Festival and a picture book set in Beijing. In the meantime, I have started preliminary drafts for a novel that may become Summer of the Pig to take place in between my past novels Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat. I have no plans on writing a sequel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, but I would like to write another fantasy novel someday. I just have to hope the muse strikes!

We are eagerly awaiting the chance to see Minli, the dragon, and all the other characters in full-color illustrations when the finished book arrives. Can you tell us about your method and what media you used to create them?

For this book, I really wanted my art to have a traditional Chinese-inspired look. I didn’t want to reproduce a traditional Chinese painting style, as I feel that the book is not a re-telling, not a historically accurate tale; but an original fantasy with a Chinese influence. I wanted the art to be influenced, but not an imitation.

So, like the writing, I tried to do research and blend what I found with my own sensibilities. I took thousands of my own photos during my trips abroad that I used as a photo reference, but I also looked at Chinese paintings, ceramics, and paper cuts. In China, we visited a cloisonne factory (a tourist standard!) and I found the many steps that the artists do to create cloisonne images fascinating. The intricate patterns, the ornate borders, had a certain jewel-type richness that I felt fit the magical atmosphere I wanted to achieve in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. So the cover illustration was very much inspired by that. The full-page illustrations also had cloisonne as its muse, but they were also mixed with influences of traditional Chinese paintings and the art of antique Chinese vases and ceramics.

I wanted the chapter headers to be simpler, more of a teaser or clue to the upcoming story rather than a window into it (which is how I wanted the full page images to be). For those, I looked at Chinese paper cuts. Paper cuts, to me, have always been an interesting art form – all the abstract shapes suddenly coming together to make an image, rather like how (hopefully) the chapters come together to make a story. So, I thought it would be a good approach for the chapter headers.

You can find Where the Mountain Meets the Moon in local bookstores or online! Check it out today!

Check out Thrifty Minnesota Mama for the next stop on the Grace Lin Blog Tour.

3 lucky readers will win a copy of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin on The Mommy-Files!

WIN IT! (MANDATORY ENTRY)

– Visit The Mountain Meets the Moon and tell me in a comment what you think about the book trailer on her site.

EXTRA ENTRIES!

– Follow my blog (or tell me you already follow) – 1 entry
– Subscribe to my blog (or tell me you already subscribe) – 1 entry
– Follow me on Twitter (themommyfiles) and tweet about the contest – 1 entry (per day)
– Add the new Mommy-Files button – 1 entry
– Blog about the giveaway – 3 entries (per day)
– Favorite me on Technorati – 1 entry

– Follow Grace Lin on Facebook –http://www.facebook.com/pages/Grace-Lin/87861184226?ref=ts – 1 entry
– Tell me why you want to win this giveaway – 1 entry

RULES

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. PST on Tuesday, JULY 7th, 2009 and the winner will be announced on this blog on Wednesday, July 8th (as well as emailed).**IF YOU SUBMIT A COMMENT AFTER 11:59 PM ON TUESDAY, JULY 7TH, IT WILL BE DELETED**
– Please leave your email address in your comment so I can contact you if you win the giveaway.

– Winners must respond within 48 hours of email notification or another winner will be chosen.

– Open to US Residents!

About Has 4151 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of RedheadMom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

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