Tag Archives: #WhentheSeaTurnedtoSilver

When the Sea Turned to Silver

“Come quickly!” Grandmother Amah shook Pinmei from sleep. The rocky ground rumbled beneath her feet. Freezing currents nipped at the girl’s toes. She followed Amah to the storage room of their mountain hut. Hidden inside an empty vat, Pinmei stared through a crack into the darkened room. Her grandmother piled baskets and boxes around the vat and left.

Thundering hooves pounded the mountainside. The front door crashed to the ground. The Tiger Emperor’s soldiers roared when they saw Amah standing in the open doorway. “She’s the one we want! Take her!” Torchlight flared across Amah as they dragged her from the hut.

With his head raised high, a young boy fought his way through the soldiers to their commander. The watchful Yishan, who lived alone high up the craggy slopes, barreled into the hut like a fierce mountain dog. “Do not take her!”

The commander threw Yishan against the wall like a bag of rice. Torches hurtled into the room. Orange flames licked the thatch as Pinemei’s home caught fire. Yishan flew to the back wall and ripped down shelves, kicking a shuttered window. Pinmei scrambled from hiding and out the smoking window. Her blazing hut lit up the night sky.

The Tiger Emperor’s armies swept throughout the land, attacking villages in the deep of the night. Thousands of men were captured and conscripted to build the Vast Wall. Any appeals to the Emperor were met with the same reply: Bring a Luminous Stone that Lights Up the Night if you seek freedom for the one you love.

But why take Amah? The old woman was the Storyteller, not capable of forced labor. Pinmei and Yishan decided their best chance of saving Amah was to find a Luminous Stone for the Tiger Emperor. They knew a dragon’s pearl was in the City of Bright Moonlight. Could that save Amah?

They set out in the deep snow. A mysterious rider in gleaming blue silk galloped past through the mist, only to be thrown from her horse. The children rushed to her crumpled body and were amazed by her beauty. Her voice rang like water chimes when she spoke, but her eyes were marred by sorrow. She too was bound for the City of Bright Moonlight. The three walked together down the icy road.

Their journey takes them through places where harsh realities and legend intermingle. The greed and cruelty of the Tiger Emperor invade every village in the land, even disturbing the watery realms of the Sea King. Crimson butterflies, stone fish, scarred women—even Spring itself—fall under the iron rod of his wrath. With every new tale from the Storyteller’s trove, this world expands, rising to the Starry River and plunging into the silver sea.

Grace Lin’s masterful storytelling entwines three timeless themes: good fortune, peace, and the quest for immortality. She is a Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award Finalist.

–Kate Calina