Li Lan, a lovely but unassuming girl from a scholarly family fallen on hard times, is rather taken aback when her father casually asks her one night if she would like to become a ghost bride.
Her nursemaid is furious. Even suggesting such a thing is unlucky, although Li Lan would be living with a rich family, and it’s probable that all of her family’s debts would be taken care of.
Ghost brides were an old tradition brought to Malaya (colonial Malaysia) from China, where a young man who had died might still be given the precious gift of a wife to honor his memory.
But who is Li Lan's ghost groom? The only son of a wealthy family who was odious in his manner and appearance, whining and fat. He saw Li Lan just once when he was alive, but so entranced was he by her beauty that he is still pressuring his family to make a match. Yes, still. He thinks he has everything she might want in the land of the dead, and he isn’t giving up, although Li Lan is equally determined to resist him—especially after she meets a young man who she believes suits her far better and is very much alive.
January 31, 2014, marks the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Horse. In Chinese astrology, people born in the Year of the Horse are believed to be hard-working, self-reliant, and cheerful. Years featuring the horse are supposed to be strong ones for travel, adventure, and opportunity.
To read more about adventures with horses, check out our book list, CRRL Kids: Horse Sense.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, is a gentle, wondrous Chinese fantasy book for children. Set in a long-ago times, it follows a brave and bright girl named Minli who lives with her parents in a poor farming village. There is barely enough rice to keep them fed and certainly not any for luxuries. Most all the people are downtrodden and worried about their daily lives, but not Minli. She does not like the hard work in the sticky, muddy rice fields, but every evening she can look forward to stories told by her beloved father.
These tales fill her heart and her mind in such a way that she becomes the most radiant and hopeful young girl living near Fruitless Mountain. Indeed, she is so hopeful that when a peddler comes to their village with bowls of lucky goldfish, she takes her small savings to buy one, with high expectations. But when no luck seems to come and her father starts sharing his small supper with the hungry fish, Minli knows she must let it go. Releasing it into the Jade River, a river created according to legend from the body of a grieving dragon, she is surprised when a sweet, high-pitched voice—the goldfish!—offers to help her find her fortune by telling her the way to Never-Ending-Mountain where lives the Old Man of the Moon. The Old Man knows all things, including how her family’s fortune might be changed.