The Moon Lady

by Amy Tan

Hardcover, 1992



Local notes

E Tan


Macmillan Company (1992), Edition: 1st, 27 pages


Nai-nai tells her granddaughters the story of her outing, as a seven-year-old girl in China, to see the Moon Lady and be granted a secret wish.


Original language


Physical description

27 p.; 9.5 x 0.25 inches


0027888304 / 9780027888300



User reviews

LibraryThing member MissMermaid118
THE MOON LADY by Amy Tan is a sophisticated story of a young girl's maturation woven around an actual character from Chinese folklore. Tan originally told a version of this story in her novel, THE JOY LUCK CLUB. It's been years since I read that novel (definitely in line for re-read), and I don't specifically recall this story from that source. My review is based solely on this picture book.

In this book, richly illustrated by Gretchen Schields, a grandmother recounts an incident from her childhood to her three restless granddaughters. On the day her family travels to Tai Lake to celebrate the Moon Festival, 7-year-old Ying-ying is so excited she can barely control herself. She can't understand why everyone else isn't as excited as she or as eager to be on their way. Like most children her age, she is by turns sulky and sweet, selfish and loving, distracted and introspective -- basically, naughty and nice. Throughout the day, these aspects of her personality lead her into many adventures, some quite dangerous and scary. Everything culminates with Ying-ying's encounter with the Moon Lady who, on this one special day of the year, has the power to fulfill a secret wish. But what is it that Ying-ying desires most?

I enjoyed this story quite a bit. I loved how the language easily transported me to another place and time, another way of describing the world: ". . . the fifteenth day of the eighth moon." You can't read those words and think you are in modern day America. I loved Ying-ying's spirit and her curiosity, her sense of wonder of the world. There is a lovely scene where she plays with her shadow and speaks of it as though it is a little friend.

There are also darker elements to this tale, so that even though the story is presented in picture book format, I think it is more appropriate for older children and adults. One scene describes a toothless old woman gutting eels for making soup. When Ying-ying accidently gets some of the blood on her clothes, she naively thinks she can hide the stains by smearing even more blood all over her outfit. Fortunately, in the accompanying illustration, the blood is more magenta in color as opposed to red so that it's not so frightening to look at! Subsequently, Ying-ying is separated from her family. The story enters into a dreamlike phase where Ying-ying is rescued and returned to her family, only to have them deny her because they don't believe she is lost. Ying-ying actually sees her doppleganger on the boat with her family. And then there is the encounter with the Moon Lady herself . . .

Of course the story ends on a happy note - Ying-ying is obviously reunited with her family as she is telling this story to her granddaughters. I read this book to my 9-year-old nephew who has a fascination with Asian cultures. The moral and messages were lost on him - it is a rather convoluted tale. He enjoyed certain passages and was very interested in the detailed illustrations.

I enjoyed this book but can see that it would not be to everyone's taste. As a fable, it is more apt to appeal to adults. For sheer narrative, some children will enjoy the adventuresome nature of the story; I think others will get bogged down by the twists and turns. I'd recommend THE MOON LADY to adults and older children who are interested in Chinese culture and folktales.
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LibraryThing member laf
This book is like a pastry, with a bread-like crust of Chinese culture on the outside, and a cream filling of moral on the inside. Every glance at the words on the page is like taking a bite out of it. I highly recommend this book for kids who want to learn about Chinese culture.

In this book, a little girl goes on a boat trip during the Moon Festival. She falls off and gets lost. Then, the Moon Lady descends from the moon and the girl shouts out that she wishes to be found because the Moon Lady grants wishes. Later, her family finds her and the story ends.

The moral to this story is that the best wishes can be made true by yourself. The girl fulfilled her own wish by finding her family.

It has beautiful illustrations of a Chinese town. One illustration shows the singing cricket escaping it's cage. Another shows two boys fishing using a seagull who gets dropped into the water so he can catch fish in his mouth, and then the boys took the fish out of his mouth before he could eat it. It also has a lot of different colorful temple illustrations.
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LibraryThing member caitlinsnead
The drama in which the Moon Lady is a major character concerns the loss and reclamation of cultural and individual identities. Four-year-old Ying-ying, who has fallen overboard, is desperate to be "found" — to once again be reunited with her family — and with herself. She feels as though she has not only lost her family, but that she has also lost her "self." As an old lady many years later, Ying-ying poignantly tells how she "lost herself." She says that she surrendered her identity as she felt herself being transformed into a shadow, insubstantial and fleeting.… (more)
LibraryThing member benuathanasia
Meh. Not really interesting or intriguing.
LibraryThing member quondame
I read this to my daughter years ago and didn't pause to spend time with the elaborately realistic and fantastically detailed pictures on each page of the central story of a young girls adventures on the Autumn Moon festival.
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
Not for toddlers - consider it an illustrated story for patient children ages 4 and up. Gorgeous descriptions and details in the text bring it more alive than I would have guessed - and of course the illustrations are yet another aid and enhancement. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn that children in historical China have the same spirit and feelings as children anywhere.… (more)




(52 ratings; 3.7)
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