Rendi had no idea how difficult running away from home would be. Tired and hungry, he finds himself employed as a chore boy at an inn in the Village of Clear Sky. Even though he has a bed and enough to eat, he sleeps fitfully. The moon has gone missing, and the night is filled with a strange, mournful crying that no one else seems to hear.

When Master Chao, owner of the inn, first hires him, Rendi is resentful. He has nothing but scowls for everyone, especially Master Chao’s young daughter Peiyi. Then the lovely and mysterious Madame Chang arrives, and his attitude slowly begins to change. Madame Chang has an inexplicable presence that emanates peace. She tells fascinating tales of ancient times and seems to understand what lies in everyone’s heart. When she encourages Rendi to tell stories of his own, the boy finds he cannot help but share something of his past. The contempt he originally felt for this little village and its inhabitants gradually turns to affection. If he could only discover the source of the night wailing that keeps him awake.

This companion to Grace Lin’s Newbery Honor book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, stresses the importance of familial love and affection. Each of the characters has his own tale of a broken relationship that desperately seeks forgiveness. Their stories, as well as those told by Madame Chang, are interconnected. Rendi eventually puts the pieces of the puzzle together. In doing so, he helps his friends reconcile their differences and ultimately realizes that there really is no place like home.

A former teacher, Jennifer Minicus is currently a full-time wife and mother.

Jennifer Minicus

Jennifer Minicus lives in New Jersey with her husband and son. A former French, Latin and mathematics teacher, Jennifer currently enjoys the responsibilities of a "domestic engineer", particularly making...