Last week, I read Grace Lin's Newberry Honor book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon published in 2009. This book also won the Beehive Award in 2011. Both awards are well deserved.
Grace Lin starts strong with characterization and uses words that bring her setting to life for the reader. She includes artwork that helps a lower reader. This book has a Lexile measure of 810 and says it is for ages 9 to 11, but I think older readers will enjoy this book as well.
Lin takes several folk tales and legends from Chinese stories, and weaves new life into them. All the separate stories are connected to the main character, Minli's, life and to her future. Minli is a strong female character, which is something I appreciate. She is brave and helps others and is also willing to allow others to help her.
In one of the stories in the novel, a family writes the secret of happiness on a paper, but the paper gets lost, and the evil Tiger can not find it. It is only one word. It makes the reader ask the question, "What do we really need to be happy." I won't give away the secret to happiness; you'll just have to read the book.
This book brings up a lot of questions and would make for a good discussion in readers groups, book clubs, or Socratic Seminars. This book makes the reader think and question, and in my opinion that is always a good thing.
Other books you may enjoy if you like stories that are many stories woven together:
A Monster Calls (2011) by Patrick Ness inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd and illustrated by Jim Kay. This book will make you cry and has won many, many awards.
The Search for Delicious (1969) by Natalie Babbitt
Kit's Wilderness (1999) by David Almond 2001 - Michael L. Printz Award winner
Lexile: 470 - works as a high interest low reading level book for teens
Holes (1998) 1999 Newberry Award winner by Louis Sachar - 1999 National Book Award winner
Lexile: 660 - works as a high interest low reading level book for teens