Minli leaves her parents and village to go on a quest for more wealth and security for her family. Along the way, she befriends a dragon, an orphan, a king, and many others. Chinese legends are intertwined with Minli's adventures throughout the book.
While the message about what is most important in life is simple enough for young readers to understand, older readers can find much to appreciate and discuss. The illustrations are gorgeous, and it is easy to recommend this book because of its main message, and because it is so different from other books available. However, the pacing is not action-packed or page-turning, so some readers may not be impressed. This would be a good read-aloud or literature circle book; students who are not initially drawn to the story may do better with some discussion guidance.
" ' You're right,' Minli told the dragon. 'They are not going to let us through.' "
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