Review: Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

Starry River of the Sky
Author: Grace Lin
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Age Group: Children’s
Source: Library
Amazon     Barnes and Noble     IndieBound
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary from GoodReads:

The moon is missing from the remote Village of Clear Sky, but only a young boy named Rendi seems to notice! Rendi has run away from home and is now working as a chore boy at the village inn. He can’t help but notice the village’s peculiar inhabitants and their problems-where has the innkeeper’s son gone? Why are Master Chao and Widow Yan always arguing? What is the crying sound Rendi keeps hearing? And how can crazy, old Mr. Shan not know if his pet is a toad or a rabbit?

But one day, a mysterious lady arrives at the Inn with the gift of storytelling, and slowly transforms the villagers and Rendi himself. As she tells more stories and the days pass in the Village of Clear Sky, Rendi begins to realize that perhaps it is his own story that holds the answers to all those questions.

Newbery Honor author Grace Lin brings readers another enthralling fantasy featuring her marvelous full-color illustrations. Starry River of the Sky is filled with Chinese folklore, fascinating characters, and exciting new adventures.

My Thoughts

Oh my gosh, you guys, if you haven’t read anything by Grace Lin you are missing out.  Particularly Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky (a companion novel!).  Both of these books are children’s book, and although I try to keep my reviews here on this blog YA, with some middle grade and adult book reviews thrown in for good measure, these books are too amazing to not mention.  Actually my review for Starry River of the Sky could apply to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon as well.

First, I have to comment on how gorgeous these books are.  If there are ever books to not read as ebooks, these two are it.  First off, Grace Lin created these beautiful, color illustrations.  And let me tell you, color illustrations in children’s chapter books – pretty rare.  And illustrations like these, so rich in color – they’re gorgeous.  Not only do the illustrations make these books gorgeous, but the use of different fonts is pretty amazing.  The main story uses a very standard font, but when we read the Chinese Folktales, the font is different.  Even the page numbers are lovely (not boring black ink).

Okay, so enough about how pretty these books are.  The stories are amazing.  There is the main story, but throughout the book, different folktales are told.  And then, somehow, all these folktales and the main story come together.  It’s amazing to see it happen, especially the first time  you read one of these two books.  I loved getting towards the end, it is such an awesome feelings see everything making sense.  I don’t want to say too much more about the plot, because I don’t want to give anything away.

Let’s talk characters!  Grace Lin can create such wonderful, fully-developed characters.  You like almost every one you meet, but none of them are the same, or perfect.  Rendi is such a stubborn, sometimes annoying, little boy, but the reader can tell something unpleasant has happened to him which helps the reader like him.  And, of course, by the end of the novel, I just loved Rendi to pieces.  I wanted to bring him to my house, and take care of him, and show him tons of love.  But I also grew to love all the residents of the Village of Clear Sky.  They all had an important part in this novel.

But seriously, you guys should check out Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin.  They are amazing!  If there are ever children’s chapter books you don’t want to miss out on, it’s these two.

About Quinn

I'm a twenty-something children's librarian at a public library in Central New York. I've long left my teen years behind me, but I love to read YA and children's books. I have two adorable dogs. Ginger is a mix between a poodle and havanese, and Daphne is Bichon Frise. Other things I love: Favorite Movie: Singing in the Rain Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Favorite TV Show: Monk
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2 Responses to Review: Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

  1. Heidi says:

    Quinn–I am SO glad that you did decide to feature this book/these companions! Honestly they’ve been on my radar (particularly since Where the Mountain Meets the Moon received a Newberry honor), but I haven’t seen any reaction to them among blogging friends because, as you stated, they’re a bit younger than the age range usually focused on. I love the illustrative style–I didn’t know she’d done them herself or that there were color illustrations throughout! I really will have to make an effort to read both of these within the coming year. 🙂

    • Quinn says:

      They are wonderful! Definitely some of my favorite books. I would love to hear you response about how the folktales and the main story tie together at the end. Especially with the first one you read. It’s really amazing. I think I liked Where the Mountain Meets the Moon more, but that might be because I read it first. Also, I tend to like books with girl main characters more. But Starry River is fantastic too. I hope you enjoy them. They are pretty fast reads.

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