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by Grace Lin

illustrated by Grace Lin


School Library Journal:

/* Starred Review */ Gr 3-6 –Living in the shadow of the Fruitless Mountain, Minli and her parents spend their days working in the rice fields, barely growing enough to feed themselves. Every night, Minli’s father tells her stories about the Jade Dragon that keeps the mountain bare, the greedy and mean Magistrate Tiger, and the Old Man of the Moon who holds everyone’s destiny. Determined to change her family’s fortune, Minli sets out to find the Old Man of the Moon, urged on by a talking goldfish who gives her clues to complete her journey. Along the way she makes new friends including a flightless dragon and an orphan and proves her resourcefulness when she tricks a group of greedy monkeys and gets help from a king. Interwoven with Minli’s quest are tales told by her father and by those she meets on the way. While these tales are original to Lin, many characters, settings, and themes are taken from traditional Chinese  folklore. The author’s writing is elegant, and her full-color illustrations are stunning. Minli’s determination to help her family, as well as the grief her parents feel at her absence, is compelling and thoroughly human.–Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD –Jennifer Rothschild (Reviewed July 1, 2009) (School Library Journal, vol 55, issue 7, p87)


  • ALA Notable Children’s Books – Middle Readers Category: 2010
  • Beehive Awards (Utah): Children’s Fiction Books
  • Josette Frank Award
  • Massachusetts Book  Awards: Children’s/Young Adult Literature Award
  • Mythopoeic Award: Children’s Literature
  • Oprah’s Kids’ Reading Lists – New Releases: 10-to-12 Years
  • Parents’ Choice Awards – Fiction: 2009
  • YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults: Fairy Tales Retold: Once Upon a Twisted Time (2016)


3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, Ages 9-12, Folklore