Rendi has a problem – an attitude problem. In my childhood, a General Bad Attitude (GBA) was grounds for punishment. In Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin, Rendi has run away from home, so his parents aren’t around to punish him.
Instead, he’s forced to work as a chore boy at an inn by the roadside, where a wine merchant left him after discovering him in his cart. I say ‘forced’ because there is no other option, not because the landlord is mean to him. In fact, everyone in the tiny village pretty much ignores Rendi, just as they ignore the fact the moon is missing. How could Rendi be the only one who notices that significant detail?
Then an unexpected guest comes and stays at the inn. She is beautiful and she tells stories. After hearing many stories, Rendi, and the rest of the village, slowly change. And Rendi realizes that his story is important too.
Starry River of the Sky is a companion book to Lin’s other novel Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. It’s a companion in that the structure of the books are almost exactly the same – fairy tales and other stories interwoven with a narrative, which all tie together at the end of the book.
If you are sharing this book with children, I think reading it aloud to them would be the best way to share it. The book offers visual cues to know when the story is changing, which can be confusing when listening to the audiobook. You could also listen to the audiobook while having the book in front of you. (This doesn’t always work for me because I tend to read ahead of the narrator, then loose track of the audiobook.)
Recommended for ages 7 and up. Younger children would enjoy hearing it read aloud, but probably wouldn’t be able to read it to themselves.