Story element critique of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

  • Characterization
  • Point of view
  • Setting
  • Theme
  • Style
  • Tone
  • Plot
Title, author, book cover image
Genre - Modern fantasy with traditional fairytales through out.


Main character:

  • Minli -
    girl with Black hair, pink cheeks, shiny eyes, fast smile, lively, and impulsive spirit, two copper coins, and Father's stories

Other characters:

  • Ba & Ma Minli's father and mother
  • Jade dragon and her children - pearl, yellow long, & black
  • Goldfish man
  • Magistrate, Green Tiger
  • Buffalo boy, king, Da-Fu, A-Fu, A-Gong, Amah
  • Old Man of the Moon

Point of view

Third person


Long ago from the
Jade River Valley by Fruitless Mountain to the Village of Moon Rain, beyond, and back.


Treasure is the good fortune of family.


Contrasting optimism & pessimism. Pa is optimistic and ma is pessimistic. The present is described as dull, muddy, & hopeless, past as better, and future as hopeful.


Contrasting pessimism with hope. Descriptive phrases such as ... a joyful fire twirling in the water. Encouraged the reader to believe a positive outcome was possible, despite the current situations.


The story is told in the third person with short stories told within the bigger story by different characters. The first short stories are told by Ba with other characters telling short stories as the story unfolds. When Minli leaves the story divides into two strands alternating between her and Ma & Ba until she returns.

The story begins with the family together describing the setting and the families life together. Ba tells The Creation of village situation story: Jade Dragon made the clouds and rain. When she hears people complain of sunless and rainy days, she decides to never make rain again. The people suffer and will die without rain so her children: Pearl, Yellow Long, & Black take pity on them and turn themselves into rivers so they may have water. Jade Dragon despairs about her loss and hopes to reunite with them by turning herself into the Jade river. However, it doesn't work and her heart becomes Fruitless Mountain.

Minli buys a Goldfish with one copper coin to bring fortune into her home.

Ba story: Magistrate Tiger Meets the Old Man of the Moon who tells him his son will marry the daughter of a grocer rather than royalty, because that is to whom he tied the red chord that binds them. After the story, Minli suggests she should go to the Never Ending Mountain and ask The Old Man of the Moon, who knows all, how to bring fortune to their home. However, no one seems to knows where the Never Ending Mountain is.

Minli decides the goldfish eats to much of their rice so she takes it to the river and lets it go. To compensate for being released the Goldfish tells her how to get to the Never Ending Mountain. She packs supplies, leaves, and follows the compass the Goldfish told her to make and follow.

Her parents find her note and follow.

Minli hears a cry for help and finds Dragon tied up. Dragon explains the monkeys tied him up, because they are so greedy they didn't want to share looking at peaches. Dragon doesn't know how to fly so Milni invites him to go with... The Story of the Dragon: how he came to life from a painting for Magistrate Tiger when he painted in the eyes so he doesn't have a name... that's why his name must be Tiger.

Plot continues ...

Ba and Ma come upon the Goldfish man whose trail they were following thinking it was Milni's. Not knowing what to do they rest, listen to the Goldfish man who suggests they allow her to seek their fortune and tells them The Story of the Goldfish Man. How he meet an old man and got him to change the Book of Fortune, which suggests anything is possible, and gives them a Goldfish as a gift.

Minli and Dragon continue through the forest and meet the monkeys who won't let them pass. Minli cooks rice, covers the pot with a fish net, and traps the monkeys when they reach in, grab a handful of rice, and can't remove their hand. Being greedy they won't open their hands and drop the rice to free themselves.

Ba and Ma rest not knowing to go forward or back. Ba says it's like The Story of the Paper of Happiness. At Goldfish's suggestion he tells the story. It is of how Magistrate Tiger orders a family to tell their secret of happiness, they write it on a piece of paper, put it in the chest, which when opened blows away. To escape Magistrate Tiger the family moves.

Ba and Ma decide to return home...

Dragon and Minli continue toward the City of Bright Moonlight to find the Guardian of the City and ask for the borrowed line. By a stream they meet a fish who tell them The Story of the Dragon Gate. That Aunt Jin was going there... Then tells them the City of Bright Moonlight is just past the forest.

Wondering how to get into the city she is answered by Buffalo Boy who shows her to his home and tells her The Story of Buffalo Boy's Friend. Who spins thread and visits every night of the full moon. She tells him the King will be at the Market of Green Abundance tomorrow morning and he shares that information with Minli.

Ma and Ba return home with Goldfish and explain to their neighbors that since they know not where to look, they will wait for Minli to return home.

Plot continues ...

Buffalo boy takes Minli to the market. She offers him her coin, but he tells her to keep it as he has all he needs. She waits for the king. A beggar asks a vendor for a peach. He refuses to give him one. Minli uses her coin to buy him a peach. After eating it, the beggar uses magic to grow a peach tree and feed the crowd peaches that were actually the vendors. Minli recognizes a dragon bracelet on the beggars wrist. Follows him, sees him enter a secret door, slips in behind him and finds she is in the Palace Garden.

King discovers her and they talk. He says he is not sure what the borrowed line is. Tells her he is the great-great-grandson of the magistrate who tried to outwit the Old Man of the Moon, who tried to have his son's intended wife killed, and this is the city he inherited.

Then he told her the Unknown Part of the Story of the Old Man of the Moon. How the magistrate was told his son would marry a daughter of a grocer, that he was given the page from the Book of Fortune, but found it was useless to him. It can only be read in moon light and the words change with the situation. Saying, You only lose what you cling to, he gave it to Minli to return to the book.

Meanwhile, dragon waits outside, talks to the Lions. beside the gate and discovers they are the Guardians of the City and they were given a red thread by the Old Man of the Moon. Thinking it the borrowed line, they gave it to Dragon.

Ma & Ba talk and decide they have faith in Minli.

Minli wakes, packs, leaves, mets Dragon, discovers both have a borrowed line.

Plot continued ...

Make compass., continue on their journey, TIGER...

Ma & Ba request moon to watch over Minli.

Tiger attacks, Dragon hurt, Minli goes to city for help.

Again runs into the Green Tiger who attacks. A-Fu arrives and Da-Fu pulls Minli behind a gray blanket. A-Fu tells Green Tiger she and her brother were sent as the monthly sacrifice, but on the way her brother was taken by a terrible monster who entered a cave. Green Tiger goes to the cave, which is a well, looks in, sees his reflection, A-Fu provokes his anger and he gets madder and madder until he sees his angry reflection and jumps into the well to attack the monster...

They children are from the Village of Moon Rain, their grandfather arrives, finds dragon is poisoned, has medicine he gives to Dragon, sends Minli and children to village, and cares for Dragon.

Dragon recovers and Minli hears The Story of The Moon Rain. When village's ancestors arrived the land was barren. The rain was like pearls that disappeared when they hit the ground. When caught they didn't. They were seeds that when planted the moon rain caused them to grow into golden flowering trees.

Ma & Ba after a great storm found everyone safe.

The Story of the Green Tiger and the Tea. Green Tiger discovered the village four moons ago. He was the spirit of the magistrate, who the village ancestors tried to give the secret of happiness. He came to punish and destroy the village and its inhabitants. His anger was his strength and weakness. Now you know our story... tell us yours.

She did and they told her the Never-Ending Mountain she was seeking is a day away. They make a coat for her with pieces of their coats, provisioned her, and Da-A-Fu set out with them.

Tell The Story of Da-A-Fu's Ancestors. A neighbor told them magistrate was coming to punish them so they packed a picnic, went up the mountain, flew kites, cut them loose, followed them, and ended up at the Village of Moon Rain.

Minli arrives at Never-Ending Mountain. How get to top? Make kite with page from Book of Fortune, red cord, and send a message. A red bridge appears.

Ma & Ba... we are like the dragon waiting for his pearl. Ma tell me ... The Story of the Dragon's Pearl.

Dragon can't go up, Minli must go alone. Dragon says he will wait. Gets to top, meets white rabbit, sees Wu Kang and asks if he is the Old Man of the Moon. Hears The Story of Wu Kang. A man who always wanted more... so his task is to chop at the tree till learns his lesson or till the end of time.

Arrive at the Old Man of the Moon. Has many red threads, small clay figures, a giant book, and blue silk bag with more red threads. Saw the bag with buffalo boy's friend.

You may ask one question. ... Sees in book the page... written over and over the word... Thankfulness. There is a dragon waiting at the bridge, Why can he not fly?

Ma & Ba... The Story that Ma Told. Selfish, foolish, longing for treasure when she had one most precious... Forgive me, I will wait, I am to blame Milni knew I was discontent, if I had not, she would not have left, sorry.

Ahh, good the fish said, "If you make happy those that are near, those that are far will come."

Dragon waited...

Milni returns. Did he tell you how to change your fortune? I didn't ask the question... I will fly you back... No, he will not answer a question for 99 years... I don't need to know the answer. Let's fly home.

On way home an Orange dragon flies by and ... winks...

Arrive at Fruitless Mountain... Dragon didn't want to leave... Minli, asks if he wants the ball from his head, no...

She runs home... goldfish greeted her. Shh... welcome home.

Morning... Ma & Ba ... what is that? Dragon Pearl, fruitless mountain has turned green (Fruitful Mt.)... Jade River is clear and fresh.

Perhaps dragon was made of inkstone from Fruitless Mountain and the heart of Jade Dragon.

Goldfish man returns can't believe it is the same city, sells out...

Father tells stories while children sip Dragon well tea.


Thanks Tom...


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