Monkey: A Folk Novel of China

Recently, my husband and I started watching Dragonball (the original before Z and Kai). Around the end of season 2 and beginning of season 3, my husband recommended I try reading Monkey, a Chinese folk novel, because, apparently, Dragonball is very loosely adapted from that story. So, I gave it a shot. I originally thought it would take me a really long time to read it, as those types of folk stories tend to. I was surprised to find the book was not filled with confusing sentences, but sentences in layman’s terms, which made the book very easy to read and very enjoyable.

Monkey tells the tale of a very smart monkey who, through his bravery, becomes king and rules over them all for many years. However, he gets into some trouble with Heaven and is sealed under a mountain by Buddha for 500 years until he is chosen to escort a young monk named Tripitaka on a pilgrimage to India to retrieve sacred scriptures for the people of China. On their journey they encounter many monsters that have to be fought, some of which turn into allies.

As we continued to watch Dragonball, I did notice some similarities between the two, although the show is, indeed, a very loose adaptation. Goku’s hyper and eager attitude resembles the way Monkey acts throughout the majority of the story. Monkey and Tripitaka journey to find the sacred scriptures, and Goku travels to find all of the Dragonballs. Monkey and Goku can also both ride on a cloud and use a “power pole”, which is a stick that grows or shrinks when commanded. There are other small similarities that I found between the two, but I will keep it at that.

Due to the way the book is written I generally think Monkey is a great book for both teens and adults. What’s even better is there is a children’s book of Monkey! Which means I’m definitely buying it whenever I end up having children.

Grade: A

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