In The Making of Monkey King, the fantastic beginnings of this unforgetable hero are told. Magically born from a rock, he is crowned Monkey King by his fellow monkeys after finding a sanctuary for them. Anxious to make the enjoyment of his life and his rule last forever, he sets off on a journey to find the secret of immortality. The humor and action of this first book in the Adventures of Monkey King series will surely delight readers of all ages.
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Text: Vietnamese, English (translation)
Original Language: English
Gr 2-5--For centuries, action-packed tales about the Monkey King circulated, recounting his rise to power, his cosmic mischief, and his final role as one of the holy monk's companions. In the 16th century, poet and civil servant Wu Cheng'en organized the Monkey King's exploits into an epic novel, Journey to the West. The retellers abbreviate the first few chapters of Wu's novel into text for a picture book. Monkey King is born on the mountain of fruit and flowers, becomes king of other monkeys living there, leaves his kingdom to seek the secrets of immortality, and returns with greater power, ready to drive away the Demon of Chaos, who has enslaved his subjects. The simian hero's fantastic, extravagant adventures, known through film and cartoon to a vast modern audience in China, present formidable challenges to the illustrator. Ma makes a workmanlike attempt that is authentic but too literal to do its subject justice. Trying to portray too many events on one page results in a somewhat scattered and confused composition, which weakens the drama of the story. However, because this is the best picture-book version of the story to date, libraries needing authentic Chinese stories for younger children would do well to consider it, even if they already own R. L. Gao's Adventures of Monkey King (Victory, 1989) or Jill Morris's Monkey and the White Bone Demon, (Viking, 1984; o.p.). This picture book is the first in a series so one can assume that the story cycle will continue.
Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams
Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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