I’m coming to the end of week one of the 30-Day Book Challenge, and today’s prompt is “a book that makes you happy.” Unsurprisingly, I’ve chosen another children’s book. But not a Harry Potter book this time!
Some of my favorite books are ones that show the struggle of being human, and oftentimes those books do not end happily. In fact, I think that sometimes people (including me) judge whether a book is “important” by the grittiness of its content and its exposure of harsh realities. It’s easy, and not at all wrong, to say that a book about slavery or the Holocaust is significant. At the same time, however, I think a book can be important and show the human condition while still having a happy ending. One example of such a book is Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.
This award-winning middle grade novel is an excellent example of the excitement and inspiration I still find in children’s literature. The book follows a young girl named Minli on her journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how to change her poor family’s fortune. One reason Where the Mountain Meets the Moon makes me so happy is the importance it gives to storytelling. Minli sets off on her quest because she believes that the Chinese fables her father has been telling her are true, but her mother believes they are nonsense and is more focused on tangible things, such as money. Throughout Minli’s journey, Lin intertwines the “fictional” myths with the heroine’s “real” world, disintegrating the division between imagination and reality. As Minli meets characters she had only heard of during bedtime stories, they become part of her own story and help her discover what is truly important in life. Ultimately, the book praises the formative role of storytelling in every day life, which I think is very significant (although I was an English major, after all!).
Another reason I love this book is because it not only contains a wonderful story, but also beautiful illustrations. The full-page illustrations complementing each chapter are bright, colorful, and whimsical, just like the story itself. Lin, who also illustrated the book, gives readers a visual peek into the story world, bringing to life some of the Chinese motifs and further emphasizing the importance of a lively imagination. The design of the book also enhances the way fables are weaved throughout the narrative. The mythical tales are set in an ancient-looking script, signaling an entrance into a fantastical, literary world. Ultimately, the beautiful pages of the book make its advocacy of literature even more compelling.
Overall, this book is exciting, touching, funny, and joyful. While I would classify it as a happy book, it does deal with important themes, such as money versus love and reality versus fiction. It is a book that I think everyone can learn from and enjoy.
Do you think a happy ending is necessary for a book to be happy? Let me know below!