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.
Past, Present and Storytelling
This is another one of those books I’d read several great reviews of in the trades at work. (Yes, I read reviews for books other than YA…why do you ask?) I read Cindy Pon’s Silver Phoenix books
a couple of years ago, and was blown away by the beauty and majesty of the Chinese culture in her work; so I was excited to find another book deeply rooted in Chinese history and storytelling.
Grace Lin really captures something magical in this book. It is the story of Rendi, a young man who is angry and seeking something new. But it is also a story that spans centuries and generations, integrating Rendi’s present with the vast history of the Village of Clear Sky, and even the history of the sun and moon. I love this sweeping, yet intimate, story. I love how past and present are interwoven so magically here. The importance of the past is honored in storytelling; and storytelling is honored as an important part of the past and present.
When I was a little girl, my grandmother worked as a medical missionary in China and India. She used to come home with strange souvenirs and even stranger stories. I was captivated by her stories about working with the poorest of the poor, but I was also jealous of the people thousands of miles away who got to spend more time with my tiny, spitfire grandmother than I did. As an adult, I look back on the gift my grandmother gave me, and feel a sense of honor in preserving her past–her heart for service, her dedication to love and compassion, and her courage–as a part of my present. Somehow, reading Starry River of the Sky reminded me of that, of my grandmother, and my own distant, yet intimate, connection with China.
I know that really has nothing to do with with the book, but I felt like sharing it. I guess reading a book about the indivisible nature of past and present, and the importance of storytelling, inspired me to share a story about my past with you.
Another thing I loved about Starry River of the Sky was, quite simply, how unusual it was. Perhaps if I’d grown up reading Chinese folklore and mythology, it wouldn’t be too unusual to me. I don’t know. I do know, though, that the story took such unique twists and turns, and made me feel like I was living in an entirely different world. I loved it.
Oh, also, the illustrations were amazing!