By: 吴承恩, adapted by 火棘果子，illustrated by 朱青贞 & 周大光 etc.
Originally published in: China
Language: Simplified Chinese
Pages per book: 74
Lines per page: 3
Price per book: $5.78
Audio book: Luka
If you are looking for a classic Chinese story to expose your little Mandarin learner to Chinese culture in addition to language, look no further than 西游记 (xī yóu jì) Journey to the West (also known as 美猴王 (měi hóu wáng) The Monkey King). If there is one Chinese superhero that every Chinese kid knows and idolizes, it is the Monkey King!
Created in the 16th century in the Ming Dynasty, the original Journey to the West 西游记 / Monkey King 美猴王 story was one of the Four Classic Novels of Chinese literature. It had deep roots in Chinese folk religion, mythology, Taoist and Buddhist philosophies. The novel is at once a comic adventure story, a humorous satire of bureaucracy, and a celebration of virtue and teamwork. It is still revered in China as a source of modern day idioms, values, and religious attitudes and since its publishing it has inspired endless artistic, cultural and literary creations in China and beyond.
西游记 The Journey to the West’s impact on Chinese literature and culture is comparable with that of Shakespeare on the English-speaking world. Because of its significance in the Chinese culture and language, a number Chinese teaching programs use 西游记 The Journey to the West as their entire curriculum.
After reviewing countless versions of the classic Journey to the West stories over the past year, we ultimately chose to carry this 32-book 美猴王系列丛书 (měi hóu wáng xì liè cóng shū) The Monkey King Classic Collection because:
- The series covers 32 main stories from the original novel, retelling the major plots of the complete Journey to the West stories, while other Monkey King Children’s book series usually is not as extensive.
- Luka reads all 32 books in this series! Each book is a 30 to 40 minutes engaging screen free audio book experience!
- The stories were originally created for native Chinese speakers age 5-8 so the text is challenging but comprehensible for non-native learners conversational in Chinese. The language has been modernized to help children follow them, but essential Chinese idioms and expressions have been preserved.
- The vibrant illustrations were created by a team of 32 top Chinese artists and historians, mirroring the artistic style of the wildly popular 1964 animation 大闹天宫(dà nào tiān gōng) Hovoc in Heaven. That film, created at the height of China’s 2nd Golden Cinema Era (before the Cultural Revolution effectively shut down the film industry in China), influenced generations of Chinese and instantly inspires nostalgia in much of the Chinese diaspora to this day. Like the film, this 32-book series of Monkey King books for children is characterized by an illustration style heavily influenced by Peking opera, and thus, gives even deeper insight into Chinese cultures than ordinary Chinese children's books. .
Main plot: During the legendary pilgrimage of the Tang dynasty, Buddhist monk Xuanzang traveled to the "Western Regions (Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent) to obtain Buddhist sacred texts. The Gautama Buddha provided him four protectors and disciples, 孙悟空 Sun Wukong (美猴王, the Monkey King), 猪八戒 Zhu Bajie (the carefree Pig), 沙悟净 Sha Wujing (loyal, reliable, and hardworking man), and a dragon prince turned white horse 白龙马 Bai Long Ma. The team of five return after much suffering and many treacherous encounters with nature and powerful goblins who hope to eat up Xuanzang's flesh in exchange of immortality.
Book titles 美猴王系列丛书 měi hóu wáng xì liè cóng shū:
第一辑 Season One
1. 《猴王出世, hóu wáng chū shì》 Born of the Monkey King
2. 《大闹天宫, dà nào tiān gōng》 Havoc in Heaven
3. 《悟空归正, wù kōng guī zhèng》 Wu Kong's Return to the Right
4.《大闹黑风山, dà nào hēi fēng shān》 The Black Wind Mountain
5. 《猪八戒做女婿, zhū bā jiè zuò xù》 Zhu Baijie (Pigsy) the Son-in-law
6. 《流沙河, liú shā hé》 The Liu Sha River
7. 《偷吃人参果, tōu chī rén cān guǒ》The Ginseng Fruits
8. 《巧斗黄袍怪, qiǎo dǒu huáng páo guài》The Yellow Cape Monster
第二辑 Season Two
9. 《莲花洞, lián huā dòng》 The Locus Flower Cave
10.《智降狮猁王, zhì jiàng shī lì wáng》 The King of Shi Li
11. 《勇擒红孩儿, yǒng qín hóng hái ér》 The Red Boy
12. 《变法斗三仙, biàn fǎ dǒu sān xiān》 The Three Gods
13. 《大战通天河, dà zhàn tōng tiān hé》 The Battle on the Tong Tian River
14. 《勇斗青牛精, yǒng dǒu qīng niú jīng》 The Black Ox Demon
15. 《子母河, zǐ mǔ hé》 Zi Mu River
16. 《西梁女国, xī liáng nu guó 》The Kingdom of Girls
第三辑 Season Three
17.《真假美猴王, zhēn jiǎ měi hóu wáng》 Who is the Real Monkey King
18.《三调芭蕉扇, sān diào bā jiāo shàn》 The Banana Fan
19.《大战九头怪, dà zhàn jiǔ tóu guài》 The Nine-headed Demon
20.《扫平假西天, sǎo píng jiǎ xī tiān》 The Fake Western
21.《 七绝山, qī jué shān》 Qi Jue Mountain
22.《计盗紫金铃, jì dào zǐ jīn líng》 The Zi Jin Bell
23.《盘丝洞, pán sī dòng》 The Pan Si Cave
24.《伏妖救群婴, fú yāo jiù qún yīng》 Save the Babies
第四辑 Season Four
25.《四探无底洞, sì tàn wú dǐ dòng》 The Bottomless Cave
26. 《无僧国, wú sēng guó》 The Kingdom without Monks
27.《连环洞, lián huán dòng》 Chain of Caves
28.《劝善施雨, quàn shàn shī yǔ》 The Rain and Kindness
29.《计闹钉耙宴, jì nào dīng bà yàn》The Rake Banquet
30. 《挟捉犀牛精, xié zhuō xī niú jīng》 The Rhinoceros Demon
31.《弄法救死魂, nòng fǎ jiù sǐ hún》 Saving the Lost Soul
32. 《取回真经, qǔ huí zhēn jīng》 Mission Accomplished
Is my child ready for this set?
"Read to me": Children ages 7+ will enjoy having these books read to them either by Luka or a caregiver. Are you interested in this set, but, not sure whether your child would like them? Reading the interactive E-book adaption of the 1964 classic film 大闹天宫 Hovoc in Heaven on the Ellabook App would be a great way to experience to this more extensive The Monkey King 32-book series in its digital form.
"Read by myself": Children ages 9+ who knows 1000+ Chinese characters and who are capable of fluently reading advanced leveled readers or other books with 5-10 lines of text should be able to enjoy this series as a next step.
Option to pair with Luka: Luka reads all 32 of the Monkey King books, a rich audio book resource for Chinese learners!
Set Luka in front of a book, and it will read aloud any page your child turns to. For busy parents who are wrestling with time to sit down with their children as they gravitate towards longer book reading sessions, Luka will really be helpful! Luka creates a unique, independent physical book reading experience even if your child can't read by herself yet.