Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: Starry River of the Sky

Starry River of the Sky
By Grace Lin
Published 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

The moon is missing but Renli seems to be the only one who notices. He has escaped to the small Village of Clear Sky, where he hears a heartbreaking crying sound at night. Working as a helper at the inn, Renli watches the strange inhabitants of the town. Things get even stranger when a mysterious woman arrives. Will Renli be able to figure out where the moon has gone?

I had been eagerly awaiting this book since I first heard of its existence back in March, when Grace Lin visited our library and talked about her work, including this new one. Then, the book started to get significant Newbery buzz, being lauded as stronger than her Newbery Honor title, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Needless to say, I put my name on the holds list at the library as soon as I could. My reaction to this book feels similar to the reaction I had reading Wonderstruck: this book is just as wonderful and beautiful and has just as compelling a story as the first but a bit of the magic is gone. The connection between Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky is greater than that between Selznick's novels. Starry River is a companion novel to Where the Mountain, sharing a narrative style as well as some characters. I found that the legends Lin shared in this story were even more interesting than those in the first title and I thought the narrative came together as a whole even better. However, a bit of the joy of discovering a unique and magical book such as this is missing here because it's not the first of its kind. That does not make it a bad book - this is one of my favorite reads of 2012, despite my tardy review, and I would be thrilled to see this book honored with awards as Where the Mountain was. It just doesn't feel quite as new and refreshing as the first did, simply because it isn't the first. However, Grace Lin is a beautiful storyteller and artist. I have loved all of her work and look forward to everything she writes. I think these books are wonderful reads for kids - they learn the stories of a different culture, they are funny and enjoyable, with interesting characters and great adventures. Please read Grace Lin if you haven't yet!

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