Have you ever read a kid’s book or East Asian fairy tales? For all those who love kids stories or Asian folklore, do read ‘Where the Mountain Meets the Moon’. This is one big story made up of assortment of many Chinese folklore rolled in one big package. Did you ever think what would happen if your child leaves the house to chase the fairy tales they have heard? Grace Lin did and the story turned out a wondrous lesson in faith, open-mindedness, contentment and giving.
About the story
The story is of a little girl, Minli, who sets out to change her fortune and journeys through high and low to find answers with the one man who could give them to her: The old Man of the Moon, a man known to possess the book of Fortune and is known to have all the answers. Along the way she makes a dragon friend, gets help from a king, gets accommodation from buffalo boy, surpasses stupid greed of the monkeys and even encounters all the people from her tales.
We will talk about Minli, the young girl whose journey the book follows and Dragon, her faithful friend and companion. There are other memorable characters like Magistrate Tiger, whose spirit Minli encounter towards the end of her journey. He is a man of fearsome temper and greed while is family’s line today has come to be humble men. There is the happy Da-A-Fu twins, the content buffalo boy and the grateful people of the village whose each teach us a lesson in life.
The main character of this story though set out to seek a better fortune of her family learns her lesson by the time she actually reaches the immortal man she has been seeking. Her clarity of mind and a generous and grateful heart brings her good fortune when she returns, without having to ask for it.
Even her parents learn their lesson in life through their daughter.
Calling a dragon, Dragon is possibly the simplest thing Grace Lin did with the story. The character itself is sweet, simple thinking, intuitive and friendly. He helps Minli against the Tiger, waits patiently and faithfully by the king’s city and by bridge when the time comes to test his friendship and happily befriends anyone he can. In the end, it turns out that his destiny brings him luck (ability to fly). As he returns to the Fruitless Mountain, it is anything you could call but I call it destiny.
The story is a composite of 15 story story told to Minli by different people. They are all co-related in one way or another to Magistrate or the Old Man of the Moon. Some of these stories are told by Ba to his family while the others are told by the people Minli meets on the journey.
Wait! Should I say 16 stories because when all of these small folklore come together, it is like the red threads tied by the old man himself creating one perfect picture, a whole.
While positives always need negative as the world needs balance. We have all heard those words repeated now an then but this story instill the meaning deeply. The contrasting life situations of Wu Kang and Magistrate, the dis-content men and buffalo boy and twin’s family, the picture of contentment is the contrast that the story provides. It is only by this comparison that Minli gets her answer she has been seeking.
In the end it wasn’t the destination that gave her answers but the journey itself.