This book involves the old man of the moon, a dragon who can’t fly, a talking goldfish, and a girl who’s determined to change the fortune of her family. The book starts out in a small village where everything is muddy. And by everything I mean everything. Then one day a man selling goldfish comes, and the girl, whose name is Minli, buys a goldfish with one of her two coins that she got when she was a baby. Her mother is furious, but her father points out that it is her money, and she can spend it.
With the advice of the goldfish, who can talk, Minli starts out on a journey to find the old man of the moon, to ask him how to change her family’s fortune. On the way she meets a dragon who is tied down and can’t fly. She unties the dragon while the dragon tells her his tale. In this story, a painter was painting a dragon for the emperor, who is a very, very angry fellow. He did not put eyes in the painting, and when he gave it too the emperor, he was furious that the painting was unfinished, but when he saw that he could make a simple brushstroke to finish it, he did. But then the dragon came alive, broke through the palace wall, and ran away. That’s just one of the stories within the story, of which there are tons.
With the dragon, Minli and the goldfish travel to a city where they borrow a page from the book of the future, and a string of destiny. Then they find another village, but when she came there she was almost killed by the green tiger, the spirit of the emperor described above. Two of the children of the village defeat the green tiger, by tricking him so that he falls into a well. Then after a brief stop in the village they escort Minli up the endless mountain.
She then gets to the man of the moon, but what question will she ask him? And will Fruitless Mountain ever bear fruit? Find out by reading the book yourself!
I loved this book so much because of the plot, the characters, and the magic of it all. Also I liked this book even though most “common sense” says white boys only like to read books bout white boys, and books with short sentences, few words, and lots of action. I fall completely out of this category, and completely loved this. Because of the talk she gave, I know that the second book she tried to write, the publishing company tried to whitewash her book, and told her to make the Chinese girl into a white boy. Thank goodness she didn’t do that here with this story!
Here's a picture of me listening to Grace talk (borrowed from Grace Lin's blog). I am the one in the maroon shirt on the right.