Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Teacher Guide by Elizabeth Pedro

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Student Activities for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Include:

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a Chinese fairy tale about an adventurous girl who searches for the Old Man of the Moon in hopes of changing the fortune of her poor family.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!

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Quick Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Summary

Minli, a young girl whose name means “quick thinking”, listens to her Ba tell her the story of the Fruitless Mountain. Minli lives in a poor village beneath the Fruitless Mountain, a place with no water and no plant life. Minli and her parents work throughout the day in the fields. One day, Minli returns home exhausted and wishes for a better life. Just then, she hears a man outside selling goldfish, claiming it will bring good fortune. Minli uses one of the two coins her family has in the house to purchase it. Ma is furious when she finds out and is angry at all of Ba’s pointless stories.

Thinking about her weak Ba, and the fish being another mouth to feed, Minli takes the goldfish down to the Jade River and frees him. The goldfish begins talking and tells her that he has traveled all the oceans and knows where Never­-Ending Mountain is and where the Old Man of the Moon is, so that Minli can ask him questions. Minli knows it is pretty peculiar that a fish is talking, but listens intently.

The next day, Minli packs some belongings and heads to the mountain. Ma and Ba find her note and rush to find her; Ma is angry at Ba for putting fairy tales in their daughter's head. Along her voyage, Minli meets a dragon who is tangled in vines. She cuts him free and hears about how he was created from a painting that then came to life.

Ma and Ba meet the goldfish man.The goldfish man tells them his story about how he changed his own fate, so it is not impossible for Minli to change her family’s fortune. He hands them a goldfish before walking away. The goldfish speaks to Ba, telling him to share a story with Ma, even if she doesn’t ask. After telling the story, he decides it is best to return home and wait for Minli to return.

Meanwhile, Minli and Dragon continue towards Never-­Ending Mountain. They trick the monkeys to get through the peach forest and arrive in the City of Bright Moonlight. Minli enters the city alone while Dragon hides at the edge of the forest. She meets the king and inquires about the Guardian of the City and finding the borrowed line. The king tells Minli of the story of his great-­great-­grandfather who ripped a page out of the Old Man of the Moon’s Book of Fortune. A line written on the ripped page tells the king, “You only lose what you cling to”, which convinces the King to give it to Minli.

While Minli is talking with the King, Dragon feels lonely and moves closer to the walls of the city. The lion statues talk to Dragon and reveal that they are the Guardians of the City and they have the borrowed line, which is a red thread given to them by the Old Man of the Moon. Early the next morning, Minli leaves the city and finds Dragon. They swap stories and wonder who has the real borrowed line. They decide they’ll have to ask the Old Man of the Moon.

Dragon and Minli spend the night in a cave, but Minli is unable to fall asleep; she is worried about her parents and felt ashamed for wanting more. Suddenly, Minli hears a sound and gets up to investigate. A giant, green tiger jumps towards her. Dragon defends her, but gets cut by the tiger and begins to weaken quickly. Minli leaves to find help.

Minli finds twins, Da­-A­-Fu, and their grandfather, who rush to help Dragon. Minli returns to their village, Village of the Moon Rain, to catch some sleep. When she wakes up, she hears the story of the green tiger and how he is the spirit of the angry magistrate. Dragon has healed and Da-­A­-Fu leads them to Never­-Ending Mountain. The grandmother and grandfather insist that Minli hurry on her journey and get home to her parents as quickly as possible. Amah, Da-­A­-Fu’s grandmother, makes Minli a jacket out of patches of everyone’s clothing.

Minli, Dragon, and Da-­A­-Fu reach Never-­Ending Mountain. Minli tries to figure out a way to the top of the mountain, but decides to send a kite to the top, just like Da-­A-­Fu’s ancestors did. Using the two borrowed lines, Minli creates a kite and flies it up to the top of the mountain. Pulling the string back down, Minli realizes the string has turned into a bridge.

Minli walks the seemingly endless bridge until she reaches Old Man of the Moon. She is stunned when she can only ask him one question. She wants to ask how to change her family’s fortune, but she promised to ask how to make the dragon fly. She has to make the decision, but she realizes that she has been receiving the answer all along; she does not need wealth ­ she can be thankful for what she has. She leaves the Old Man of the Moon and helps the dragon remove the ball on his head. Dragon immediately feels lighter and begins flying down the mountain at once. Minli notices a change in Dragon, but she is more concerned with getting to her home. Once she arrives, she leaves her bag and Dragon’s ball on the table while she goes into her room to sleep. Her parents are delighted when they wake up and find her home.

Ba identifies Dragon’s ball as a Dragon Pearl, which is very valuable. Other changes in her village have happened rather quickly:­ the Valley of Fruitless Mountain has turned into a green, lush land with flowing water. The Valley of the Fruitless Mountain is therefore renamed Valley of Fruitful Mountain. The Goldfish Man thinks he is lost when he arrives to the town. He finds Minli and her family and sits to listen to Ba tell the story of Minli’s adventure to the Old Man of the Moon.

Essential Questions for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

  1. How does the structure of the text (the embedded folktales within the main story), reinforce the themes of courage and generosity?
  2. Why is it important to be thankful for what you have?

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Character Map

In this activity, students will depict the characters of the story using a character map. Have students pay close attention to the physical and character traits of both major and minor characters. Students will provide detailed information regarding how the characters interact with the main characters, as well as challenges the characters face.

Characters included in the character map are:

  • Minli
  • Ma
  • Ba
  • Goldfish Man
  • Dragon
  • Buffalo Boy
  • King
  • Da­-A-­Fu
  • A­-Gong & Amah
  • Green Tiger
  • Rabbit
  • Old Man of the Moon

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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Vocabulary Activities

Copy Assignment

In this activity, students demonstrate their understanding of several vocabulary words using a spider map. After choosing the word(s), students provide the part of speech, definition, an example from the text, and demonstrate their understanding of the word(s) through an illustration in the related storyboard cell.

The example visual vocabulary board includes:

  • indignant ­
    adj. expressing strong displeasure at something that is unjust

  • magistrate ­
    n. a civil officer charged with the administration of the law

  • bustling ­
    v. to move or act with a great show of energy

Additional vocabulary words from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon may include coax, meager, weariness, reverence, and anguish.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by creating visualizations.

  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Copy Assignment

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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Theme Graphic Organizer

Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard! In this activity, students will identify a theme of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and support it with evidence from the text. Students will illustrate their selections.

One theme of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is generosity.


  • Minli leaves her family to change their fortune.

  • Minli sees an old man begging for a peach. She uses the only money she has to buy it for him.

  • Da­-A-­Fu and their family save Dragon and help Minli make it to the Old Man of the Mountain.

Some other themes that are prevalent in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon include fortune or fate, curiosity, and trust.

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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Text Evidence Activity

Copy Assignment

Provide students with a question or prompt to answer on a storyboard using textual evidence.

The example prompt below is:

“What challenges does Minli face and how does she overcome them?”

Possible answers to the prompt include:

  • Dragon had been tied with vines by the monkeys. Minli works hard to cut the vines.

  • Minli and Dragon must get by the monkeys. She outsmarts the greedy monkeys by cooking them rice and sneaking by them while they are caught in the net.

  • Minli can only ask the Old Man of the Moon one question. She asks Dragon's question instead of her own.

Other prompts might include, “How do the characters influence Minli?” and “How does Minli change throughout the text?”

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that answers the prompt using at least three examples from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Click on "Add Cells" to change the number of examples.

  1. Type the question into the central black box.
  2. Think about examples from the text that support your answer.
  3. Type text evidence in the description boxes. Paraphrase or quote directly from the text.
  4. Illustrate each example using scenes, characters, items, etc.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Copy Assignment

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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Figurative Language Activity

Copy Assignment

Figurative language adds a descriptive element to text. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon has many examples of figurative language, including similes. In this activity, students can display their understanding of figurative language by identifying the examples from the text and creating a literal or figurative portrayal of the language. Additional types of figurative language include metaphors, personification, idioms, and hyperbole.

In the storyboard example below, there are three similes from Minli's encounter with the monkeys:

  • "The monkeys’ shrieks were starting to sound like hysterical laughter, getting louder and louder like a volcano about to erupt.”

  • “...with her eagerness she felt like the water she was boiling.”

  • “Through the rising steam, he could see the beady eyes of all the monkeys glittering through the branches like hundreds of diamonds as they watched as well”.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows three examples of figurative language in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify use of figurative language in the text.
  3. Put the type of figurative language (such as simile or metaphor) in the title box.
  4. Give an example from the text in the description box.
  5. Illustrate the example using using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Copy Assignment

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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Text Structure Graphic Organizer

Understanding text structure can improve students’ comprehension of the text. Examples of informational text structures include compare/contrast, chronological, cause/effect, and problem/solution. Although Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a fictional novel, it has a very unique structure. The frame story includes the adventures of Minli, her parents, and Dragon. The embedded stories give background information of characters like Dragon, Goldfish Man, and Wu Kang.

Students will select moments from the overarching story and identify the stories embedded into these moments. See the example grid storyboard below.

Frame Story

  • After long days working in the rice fields, Minli listens intently to her father's stories.

  • Ma and Ba meet the goldfish man while searching for Minli.

  • Minli meets the white rabbit at Never­-Ending Mountain.

Embedded Stories

  • "The Story of the Dragon"
    • Dragon came alive through a painting made for Magistrate Tiger.

  • "The Story of the Goldfish Man"
    • The Goldfish Man's grandmother, Lao­ Lao, was a famous fortune­teller, who predicted his death, but advised him on how to change the Book of Fortune.

  • "The Story of Wu Kang"
    • Wu Kang was never satisfied or grateful for what he had and is now chopping a tree until he learns contentment and patience or until the end of time.
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•   (English) Where the Mountain Meets the Moon   •   (Español) Donde la Montaña se Encuentra con la Luna   •   (Français) Où la Montagne Rencontre la Lune   •   (Deutsch) Wo der Berg den Mond Trifft   •   (Italiana) Dove la Montagna Incontra la Luna   •   (Nederlands) Wanneer de Berg Meets the Moon   •   (Português) Onde a Montanha Encontra a lua   •   (עברית) איפה ההר פוגש את הירח   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) حيث الجبل يلتقي القمر   •   (हिन्दी) जहां माउंटेन चंद्रमा की बैठक   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Где Гора Встречает Луну   •   (Dansk) Hvor Bjerget Meets Månen   •   (Svenska) Där Berget Möter Månen   •   (Suomi) Jos Vuori Meets the Moon   •   (Norsk) Der Mountain Meets the Moon   •   (Türkçe) Dağın Ayın Buluştuğu Yer   •   (Polski) Gdzie Góra Spotyka Księżyc   •   (Româna) Unde Muntele Întâlnește Luna   •   (Ceština) Tam, kde se Setká s Mountain Měsíce   •   (Slovenský) Kde Hora Spĺňa Mesiac   •   (Magyar) Ha a Hegy Találkozik a Hold   •   (Hrvatski) Gdje se Planina Susreće s Mjesecom   •   (български) Където Планината Срещне Луната   •   (Lietuvos) Kai Kalnų Meets the Moon   •   (Slovenščina) Kadar Mountain Meets the Moon   •   (Latvijas) Ja Mountain Meets Mēnesi   •   (eesti) Kui Mountain Vastab Moon