Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Monkey King: A Superhero Tale of China, Retold from The Journey to the West (Ancient Fantasy)

The Monkey King by Aaron Shepard

This is a story about a monkey who was born from a magic boulder, that was bathed in the energies of Earth and Heaven, quickened by the light of the Sun and Moon. He became known as the Monkey King when he wandered into the midst of other monkey's and found them a safe home in a cave behind a waterfall. The other monkey's made him their King, which is the highest honor they could bestow on him.

It was on the Monkey King's four hundred birthday that he sat complaining that he had reached the heights of greatness. "What is left to hope and strive for he asked?" The Monkey King was told that above them are Gods, who dwell in Heaven and Earth. Then there are Immortals, who have gained great powers and live forever. And finally there are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, who have conquered illusion and escaped rebirth.

That information was enough for the Monkey King to set off on his own course of action. To become not just a God or Immortal, but to become a Buddhas. He wanted it all. Nothing would stop him until he could attained what he wanted.

Even though the Monkey King studied hard he would always manage to get himself into trouble time and time again. At the end of this book we find the Monkey King pinned between stone walls. His head and arms are out, but the rest of his body was hopelessly trapped.

What kind of trouble did the Monkey King get into to find himself trapped? Was it his faith to be pinned between the stone walls forever? I can only say you must read this book for yourself to find the answers.

The monkey, is the most popular figure in all Chinese literature, loved for centuries by both young and old. Even in todays world Monkey is still cherished in the Chinese culture.

What a wonderful way to expose and broaden the minds of our young people and adults. To be transported to another place and time. To experience stories that have lasted for centuries.

Sandra Heptinstall

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Magic Flyswatter: A Superhero Tale of Africa, Retold from the Mwindo Epic

The Magic Flyswatter by Aaron Shepard

I really enjoyed this book. I really, really liked this book. It is always interesting to read stories that kids from another part of the world grew up hearing about. Every culture has their own brand of folklore that has been passed down through the generations.

This one is so different from any I have ever read. It is about "A Superhero Tale of Africa". The main character is Mwindo. As he lays in his mothers stomach waiting to be born; he decides he does not want to come out as other babies do. So he climbs out of his mothers navel. He jumped down ran around the room. In his hand was a conga flyswatter, with a handle of wood and a swatter of buffalo tail.

He Sings:
I am Mwindo, the one born walking,
the one born talking.
My father She-Mwindo does not want me.
My father the chief wants to kill me. But what can he do against me?

There is so much I would like to say about this book. But I do not want to spoil it for anyone. I can say in the end you will find something that all children around the world want and need. This book will not disappoint you. It is a must read.

Thanks again Mr. Shepard for giving us another great book.

Sandy Heptinstall