I read this one years ago and found its twists and characters simply drawn but it’s a lovely tale of bravery and love.
*This is recommended for grades 3-6 and the Reading Level is 5.5 so it’s perfect for reading aloud to grades 2 and 3. (Many 1st graders would sit still for this one.) Many 4th graders could read this on their own.
To save her village from starvation, young MinLi (whose name means “Quick Thinking”) goes on a quest:
Minli sets out alone to seek advice from the Old Man of the Moon. En route she befriends a dragon who joins her and together they encounter a talking goldfish, a boy with a buffalo, a king, a fierce green tiger and laughing twins before scaling Never-Ending Mountain. Lin deftly incorporates elements from Chinese folk- and fairy tales to create stories within the main story and provide context for Minli's quest. With her "lively and impulsive spirit," Minli emerges a stalwart female role model who learns the importance of family, friendship and faith during her amazing journey. ~Kirkus Review, 2009.