Tales of the Monkey King
by Teresa Chin Jones

"Monkey King knew he was beaten. All his powers were not enough before Buddha who commanded the infinite."

"The Monkey King," or "Souen Wu-Kung," has endured for centuries as arguably China's most beloved piece of folklore, being adapted countless times worldwide in popular fiction and passed down as legend. Born from the inside of a stone, the Monkey King is brave, eager to learn, and treats everyone with equal respect. However, unable to sit still, he is quick to anger and easily bruised emotionally by what he perceives as slights against the respect he is due as the king of his people. This leads many other powerful figures to take offense at his behavior and demand his punishment or execution. Under the tutelage of the Buddha, Souen Wu-Kung is ordered to help a monk make a pilgrimage to India and return with the sacred texts. With new allies and a dangerous journey before them, the Monkey King's path to salvation will be treacherous but fulfilling.

Having grown up with these tales, the author does a wonderful job of adapting many of the important chapters of the Monkey King's travels in a format that is easily understood by English-speaking audiences while also staying true and authentic to the source material. There are gorgeous watercolor illustrations between chapters that tie in to key moments in the story, bringing these heavenly and beastly characters to life with striking visuals. Staying true to the format of the traditional fables, the author allows the morals and lessons of each chapter to present themselves naturally, not doubling back to drive the point home but allowing the reader to realize what problems the characters make for themselves and the methods they use to atone and rise above them. This collection of beloved classics belongs in the canon of fables for young readers everywhere alongside the fairy tales and folklore heroes they are already familiar with.

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