Reading level: ages 8-12
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780316125956, 0316125954
Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
•2013 ALA Notable
•2013 Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles
•NPR Year's Outstanding 'Backseat' Reads, For Ages 9 To 14
•2012 Publisher's Weekly Best Books
•2012 Booklist Editor's Choice Best List
•2013 CCBC Choices
•Atlantic Wire's The Y.A./Middle-Grade Book Awards, 2012 Edition: Best Slow Read
•a Junior Library Guild Book
•Starred Publisher's Weekly Review
•Starred Kirkus Review
•Starred School Library Journal Review
•Starred Booklist Review
•Starred Horn Book Review
•Starred Library Media Journal Review
*Starred Review* Lin returns to Chinese folklore as the foundation for this masterfully told tale. Rendi, a runaway with a shadowy past, mistakenly lands at a remote inn and is taken on as a chore boy. Plagued by moans he alone hears issuing nightly from the sky, perplexed by the absence of the moon, and longing to escape the unhappy villagers, Rendi is unwillingly drawn into their problems when wise, enigmatic Madame Chang arrives. Linís signature device of interspersing the plot with stories told by various characters enriches this story on many levels, especially when Rendi, pressured by Madame Chang, begins to tell his own revealing stories. Neither sequel nor prequel, this fantasy is linked to Linís Newbery Honor book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (2009), through numerous elements, including lush imagery, glorious full-color artwork, food similes (ďRendiís muscles were as soft as uncooked tofuĒ), and the cruel and hot-tempered Magistrate Tiger. The lively mixture of adventure, mystery, and fantasy, supported by compelling character development and spellbinding language, will captivate a wide swath of readers.
*Starred Review* When a troubled runaway arrives in an isolated Chinese village where the moon has disappeared, he initiates a quest to find the missing orb and resolve his past. Escaping from home in a merchantís cart, Rendiís abandoned in the Village of Clear Sky, where the innkeeper hires him as chore boy. Bad-tempered and insolent, Rendi hates Clear Sky, but he has no way of leaving the sad village where every night the sky moans and the moon has vanished. The innkeeperís bossy daughter irritates Rendi. He wonders about the innkeeperís son whoís disappeared and about peculiar old Mr. Shan, who confuses toads with rabbits. When mysterious Madame Chang arrives at the inn, her storytelling transports Rendi. She challenges him to contribute his own stories, in which he gradually reveals his identity as son of a wealthy magistrate. Realizing thereís a connection between Madame Changís stories and the missing moon, Rendi assumes the heroís mantle, transforming himself from a selfish, self-focused boy into a thoughtful young man who learns the meaning of home, harmony and forgiveness. Lin artfully wraps her heroís story in alternating layers of Chinese folklore, providing rich cultural context. Detailed, jewel-toned illustrations and spot art reminiscent of Chinese painting highlight key scenes and themes and serve as the focus of an overall exquisite design. A worthy companion to Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (2009).
School Library Journal
*Starred Review* The moon is missing from the sky, and its absence causes unrelenting heat and drought. At night, Rendi can hear the sky moan and whimper for the missing moon, a sound that has plagued him since running away from home and ending up as a chore boy at an isolated inn. When a mysterious and glamorous guest arrives, she brings stories and asks Rendi to tell her tales in return. These stories weave the characters and plotlines together while revealing the backstory of Rendiís flight from home, the villageís geography, and the missing moon, and how they tie together. This follow-up to Linís Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown, 2009), takes place centuries earlier, when Magistrate Tigerís son was still young, and missing. The stories the characters tell are based on traditional Chinese folktales, but Lin adds her own elements and layers and mixes them with original tales to form a larger narrative that provides the background and the answers for the frame story. This tight and cyclical plotting, combined with Linís vibrant, full-color paintings and chapter decorations, creates a work that is nothing short of enchanting. Like the restored moon, Starry River outshines the previous work.
*Starred Review*This mesmerizing companion to the Newbery Honor Book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (2009) does not disappoint. Rendi has run away from home, stowed in the back of a merchantís cart, until he is discovered and left stranded in the scarcely populated Village of Clear Sky. There he becomes the innkeeperís chore boy and is introduced to a cast of characters, including Mr. Shan, a wise older man; Madame Chang, a mysterious out-of-town guest with a gift for storytelling; and a toad whom Mr. Shan calls Rabbit. All the while, the moon is missing, and it seems only Rendi is tormented by the skyís sad wailing noises at night. Madame Chang insists that for each story she tellsóincluding one about ruler Wang Yiís wife, who transformed into a toad and lived out the rest of her days on the moonóRendi must tell one of his own. Unlike its predecessor, this novel is stationary in setting, but it offers up similar stories based on Chinese folklore that interweave with and advance the main narrative. Each of the tales reveals something important about the teller, and most offer a key piece of the mysterious puzzle: what happened to the moon? A few characters from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, including Magistrate Tiger, appear on the periphery of the action. Linís writing is clear and lyrical, her plotting complex, and her illustrations magical, all of which make this a book to be savored.
*Starred Review*Angry at his father, Rendi has run away from home and is working at a village inn as a chore boy, filling in for the innkeeperís own son, who also has left home, angry at his father. The boys arenít the only absenteesóthere are other missing items, including the moon, a fact no one besides Rendi seems to notice. Readers gradually discover that the moon equals peace; therefore finding the moon means finding peace, which is found through forgiveness. This companion novel to Linís Newbery HonorĖwinning Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (rev. 9/09) surpasses that book in both plot and prose, again using interspersed stories that neatly circle around one another. The message that anger distorts while forgiveness transforms runs throughout the novel, never seeming repetitive and always feeling fresh while adroitly bolstering the connections among the various characters. Rendiís fatherís arrogance and anger, for instance, have turned him into someone known as Magistrate Tiger; in one of the novelís many stories-within-the-story, a tiger transforms back into a man when treated with kindness. That the book celebrates the significance of storytelling is especially gratifying, conveyed as it is through such an enthrallingly told and handsomely illustrated tale. The novel stands alone, but readers of the first book will happily pick up on familiar characters and talesóand will look forward eagerly to the planned third volume.
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