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The Magical Monkey King: Mischief in Heaven Paperback – March, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-6-One of the best-loved figures in Chinese popular culture is the trickster Monkey King. Early traditional stories about him coalesced into Wu Cheng-en's 16th-century epic novel Journey to the West, which uses 100 chapters to chronicle the insouciant, courageous hero's adventures. In this engaging version of his story, Jiang begins with Monkey's birth on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits. After proving himself to the monkey tribe, who choose him as their king, Monkey tries to learn the secret of immortality, travels under the sea to steal a powerful weapon from the Dragon King, and wreaks havoc at the heavenly court of the Jade Emperor. Only Buddha can stop his mischief, and does so in a scene that works as exciting action and profound metaphor. Lively, colloquial language distinguishes this telling, and Su-Kennedy's black-and-white woodcuts enhance the action. Jiang's format serves the old tale better than the two picture-book retellings currently available, Ed Young's Monkey King (HarperCollins, 2001) and Robert Kraus and Debby Chen's The Making of Monkey King (Pan Asian, 1998). David Kherdian's Monkey: A Journey to the West (Shambhala, 1992) abridges the entire story for adults and is accessible to middle and high school students. Jiang's is the best version for elementary school students, and libraries will want it as a good story for younger fantasy lovers, whether or not it is used as an introduction to authentic Chinese literature.
Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-5. Monkey, born of both heaven and earth, is a lively trickster. Like all tricksters, he is quick-witted and full of himself, seeking knowledge and helping his people but also wreaking more than his share of havoc. In this cycle of related stories, readers learn of Monkey's miraculous birth, his bold success in finding a new home for his people, and his clever manipulations of his enemies and his betters--including Jade Emperor and other celestial bodies whom Monkey has tried to trick. It takes Buddha himself to rein Monkey in and lock him up until he learns from his mistakes. Jiang, the author of Red Scarf Girl (1997),provides a lively telling, and the stories move briskly. Accompanying black-and-white pictures have the look of woodcuts but with a cartoonish appearance that displays less polish than the stories. This may have use for children studying China. See the "Read-alikes: Beginning Buddhism" in the January 2002 issue for other recent titles of interest. Denise Wilms
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 and up
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: Shen's Books (March 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1885008252
  • ISBN-13: 978-1885008251
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ji-li Jiang is the author of Red Scarf Girl (an ALA Notable Book), her own account of growing up in China under the Cultural Revolution. Born in Shanghai in 1954, she was a science teacher before coming to the United Sates in 1984. In 1992 she started a company, East West Exchange, to promote cultural exchange between Western countries and China. She lives near San Francisco, California.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
My kids are a bit familiar with this story already, because we live in Hong Kong and have seen parts of the series on TV and because they've also read parts of it extremely abdridged in Chinese "comic book" form.
They (aged 7 and 5) loved this book. It is written in clear English, that nonetheless gives a feel for the names amd action of the characters. It is abridged enough so the kids don't get bored, but is complete enough to be faithful to the full-length novel. We just finished reading it aloud 5 days ago and the kids REALLY wanted to know what happens next.
Unfortunetely, the second installment of the story is not yet published. So, my family is now waiting impatiently for the next bit.
The only thing that could be better were the illustrations. They were small and in black and white. While I know that making the book larger and with color illustrations would have made it more expensive, I would have been willing to pay for it.
Excellent book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on August 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Also available in a paperback edition (1885008255, $6.95), The Magical Monkey King is a retelling of classic Chinese folktales by Ji-Li Jiang. Ideal reading for children ages 7 to 10, and enhanced with black/white drawings by Youshan Tang. The Magical Monkey King tells of the Monkey King's rambunctuous adventures, from his studies with a wise sage to learn the secret of immortality, to taking a job as royal gardner in the Kingdom of Heaven, and his encounter with the great Buddha. Simple yet delightful prose of Monkey King's fantastic exploits make The Magical Monkey King an amazing, enjoyable, and whimsical read for all ages.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Chang on May 29, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book, hoping it would stimulate my ten year old grandson to enjoy his introduction to The Monkey King, and want more. It did just that! He has enjoyed the action, and the unique stories, and is now ready to delve further into a more mature rendering of The Monkey King. This book is an excellent first step into this magical world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tiedyedtrickster on May 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
I've long been a fan of trickster type characters and their stories from various cultures, and you can't peruse these stories without eventually running into the Monkey King. I've seen and heard snippets about him all over the place, and heard references to "The Journey to the West", but I'd never been entirely sure where or how his tale began, or where to look for it. I stumbled across this book by chance and decided to give it a go, in spite of being about ten grades beyond the recommended reading level.
It was perfect, exactly what I've been looking for. Technically below my reading level, but, to be honest? I didn't really notice, because for the most part I was having as much fun reading about the Monkey King's adventures as he was having them. It's a book for kids, but I can easily see myself sharing it with the recommended age group or with some of my older friends. It felt like the first time I read stories about Coyote or Anansi as a kid, like a piece of childhood I had completely forgotten about slotted into place. Simple without being condescending or dull, descriptive without being confusing, I feel fully prepared to go find some more complex versions of the stories this book contains.
But I'll still be pulling this one out to read again now and then!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jill Herbertson on August 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've read or recommended Ji-li Jiang's retelling of the classic Monkey stories to dozens of kids, and have never met a kid who wasn't completely captivated. This selfish, boastful, impulsive, hilarious creature causes the worst kinds of trouble, and seems to get away with it all.

The more chaos Monkey stirs up, the more stunned we are that no one can stop him.

Kids seem to zero in on the unfairness of a creature being so powerful, and yet so unworthy of the power he's been given. We hope against all evidence that Monkey will gain some wisdom.

This volume contains only the beginning of the Monkey saga. And we hope the rest will be published soon.

A film based on Monkey King is in production now with Jet Li and Jackie Chan which I'm sure will fan interest in the original stories, once it is released.

Ji-li Jiang's retelling is the best available in English for intermediate students. We look forward to her finishing the story. And seeing more of You-shan Tang's energetic and fresh ink painted illustrations.
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