book review

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin Review and Activities

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Grace Lin is a masterful storyteller in her latest release Starry River of the Sky. It is a companion novel to her book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Interspersing traditional Chinese folk stories into her plot, Starry River of the Sky is a tale about the negative power of anger and the transformation forgiveness can bring.

Angry at his father, Rendi runs away from home to the Village of Clear Sky where he works as a chore boy at the village inn. Every night he cannot sleep because of the soulful crying which keeps him awake. what is this crying that keeps him awake at night? Missing from the village of clear sky is the moon which disappeared when the mountain left.

Inside this enchanting tale are mysterious characters such as Master Chao and his next-door neighbor Widow Yan. There is also Mr. Chan, a confused resident who can’t seem to remember if his pet is a toad or a rabbit.

One day a mysterious lady arrives at the inn with the gift of storytelling. This gift begins slowly transforming this cast of characters, including Rendi himself. As the days pass and more stories are told, Rendi realizes it is his own stories which hold the answers to the questions.

As the story unfolds we discover that the moon equals peace, which can only be found through forgiveness.

A great magical read with luminous illustrations.

Something To Do :

Let’s go behind the scenes of Starry River of the Sky with author Grace Lin.

Grace Lin, as with many of her books, creates wonderful activities to go along with her stories. We used many of them and found a couple of our own as well. Please join us as we celebrate Starry River of the Sky.

Story of Six Suns

six gold plates

We open our celebration with an interactive read aloud which allows you to read from the first ancient story told in the book while using the whole audience for sound effects.  The script will also prompt you to use members of the audience and some simple props to tell the story of a hero who shoots multiple Suns from the sky.

The Game allows all the attendees to participate post-reading in a simple tossing of a rice-filled arrow onto a Sun target.

  • This activity involves listening to Chinese legends.
  • Saving the earth with your bows and arrows.
  • Taking away the moon.


Moon Cakes


Moon cakes are traditional beautifully baked cakes in decorative molds with a wonderful red bean paste filling inside. There is no way that we could do this version, but we do like to eat them when our friends either make them or buy them for the Autumn Moon Festival. Our version is the very simple at-home version so we hope you will try them and enjoy! We found our recipe here and made the filling with preserved jam, and dried fruits.


The Meaning of your Name

In the Chinese tradition, names have meanings. Grace Lin’s characters in Starry River of the Sky have meanings and clues as to what sort of personality and role they have inside the story.

See if you can match the characters names with their meanings.

Rendi                                      Carry Forward the Light

Peiyi                                         Mountain

MeiLan                                   Exceed, Surpass

Jiming                                       Enlightened by Benevolence

Master Chao                             Moon Lady

Widow Yan                               Strict, Stern

Mr. Shan                                   Upholding Friendship

Madame Chan                          Pretty Orchid 

To find the meanings of these names please go here.

We had a lot of fun look at the meanings of our names at Behind the Name. 

Moon Lantern

Moon Lantern

Though traditionally the lanterns of the Moon Festival are either a rabbit or a frog, we chose to make ours in the shape of the moon. A colorful moon, but a moon nonetheless.


  • one paper lantern
  • colored tissue paper cut in shapes
  • Modge Podge decoupage clue
  • sponge brush


  1.  Hang the lantern from a chandelier or other suspended place.
  2. Take the sponge brush, a piece of tissue paper and sponge glue onto it.
  3. Place the glued paper onto the lantern.
  4. Continue until you have it decorated the way you want to.
  5. Keep hanging until dry.

We used a battery operated lantern and had a ball walking around the yard with it at night.

The Day of Five Poisons


photo by primal trek

The Starry River of the Sky begins on The Day of Five Poisons. This was one of the most dangerous days of the year in ancient China. The 5th day of May marked  the beginning of Summer when villagers were at risk of being bitten or stung by an animal or insect. Villagers usually hung protective charms around their necks or nailed them to their houses.

Learn more about the day here, and create your own protective charm with this activity.

If you don’t have your own copy of Starry River of the Sky, you can get a copy HERE.


P.S.  Want to meet author Grace Lin? 

Pragmatic Mom and her children had a chance to meet her in person when she came to visit their community. Her blog post along with ours makes for the perfect Grace Lin book club adventure. We hope you enjoy your time spent inside the pages of her books and getting to know Grace Lin a little better.

If you like this story and book jump, you would love Grandfather Tang’s Story: Storytelling with Tangrams. You can find that recent post HERE.




Looking for a beautiful and unconventional diverse picture book for kids? Check out the upcoming, Sissy Goes Tiny!

Sissy Goes Tiny by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard

In Sissy Goes Tiny, eight-year-old Sissy and her parents make the bold choice to downsize their life and embark on a journey of living tiny and doing more with less. At first, Sissy struggles to get used to the idea of living in a tiny house on wheels and traveling around the U.S, but as she and her mommy and daddy learn about downsizing, repurposing, and how “stuff is just stuff,” she soon understands that a life of “living tiny” will be filled with the big adventures and learning.

This gorgeous diverse picture book will be available July of 2019 and you can read the full story of this journey here and also reserve your hardcover copy here.

“I believe that Sissy Goes Tiny is going to open so many minds for people! A tiny house is absolutely not for everyone, but we all like to dream and step into the shoes of another lifestyle in our minds. Learning about this lifestyle I think will help people be more supportive of people who do choose to live unconventionally. Sissy and her family are a great example of that.” Co-author, B.A. Norrgard

Join us in celebrating the idea of Tiny Living and BIG Adventures!

7 thoughts on “Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin Review and Activities

    1. Thanks so much for linking up to our post. We’ve done the same for you. I’ve added a P.S. at the end of the post to be sure nobody will miss your incredible Grace Lin day. What a great event and that you actually got to meet her too. So wonderful!!!!

  1. We’re just reading Starry Sky at the moment, having loved the earlier book… shall bookmark this post for afterwards!

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