When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin. Little, Brown, 2016
A historical fantasy weaves retellings of traditional Chinese legends into the story of a girl and boy, Pinmei and Yishan, searching for the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. The new emperor kidnapped Pinmei’s grandmother, the Storyteller, and Pinmei wants to find the stone and offer it in exchange. On their journey they meet those who’ve already faced loss at the hands of the emperor, who is conscripting men and boys to build a vast Wall. At first hesitant to share the stories she’s grown up hearing from her grandmother, stories she knows like her own heart, shy Pinmei becomes a storyteller in her own right as they travel. Visually the legends are set apart with a distinct font, but there is satisfaction in the way they are also woven into the fabric of Pinmei and Yishan’s quest, even offering clues: Not everyone Pinmei and Yishan meet is who and what they seem. There is also delight in how this story connects to the two earlier books in the cycle, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky, although it, like the others, stands on its own. Exquisite book- making, including full-color plates and color accents on chapter headings, add to the pleasure of this enticing volume. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:
- What examples of foreshadowing can you find in the story?
- What makes storytelling so valuable?
- What folklore do you recognize in the novel?