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The Song of Mu Lan by Jeanne M. Lee

The Song of Mu Lan

by Jeanne M. Lee

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I enjoyed reading The Song of Mu Lan because I am a Mulan fan. Mulan was remembered for dressing/acting as a man to participate in battle because her father was too sick to go. I think when reading this to a class, they would also like to watch the movie to compare the difference between the book and the movie. I like the way the text is in the book- it is very straight-forward and gets to the point. ( )
  Neshia.Rowe | Oct 25, 2016 |
I liked this because I saw the non Disney side of a strong woman who went to fight for her family. There is English and Chinese characters with each page of illustration which was interesting
  Lauren.Ely | Sep 19, 2016 |
The traditional Chinese folk legend of Mu Lan, first set down as a poem in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), is retold in this beautiful bilingual picture-book by Jeanne M. Lee, Chinese-American artist and children's author. A gender-bending tale of filial devotion, it sets out the story of Mu Lan, a young woman who takes her elderly father's place in the emperor's army, determined to spare him the suffering and privation of military life. Spending ten years in the field, Mu Lan advances to the rank of general, but declines the rewards offered by the emperor, deciding instead to return home, where her status as a woman is revealed.

In "Writing Chinese America Into Words and Images: Storytelling and Retelling of The Song of Mu Lan," a fascinating article that appeared in the April 2006 issue of The Lion and the Unicorn, scholar Lan Dong (whom I see has now published a full-length study on the subject, Mulan's Legend and Legacy in China and the United States), compared this picture-book to Disney's animated retelling of the (arguably) same tale, concluding that while the Disney production was really an American story, in exoticized Chinese garb, Lee's work (like that of Maxine Hong Kingston, in her classic The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts) was a genuine melding of Chinese and American traditions.

Although I found Dong's analysis insightful, as it concerned the cultural import of the various retellings of Mu Lan that she considered, and agree that this bilingual retelling is infinitely to be preferred to the Disney film, and its many print adaptations, I wasn't entirely satisfied with Lee's version, judged on its own merits. The watercolor illustrations, done by Lee herself, are gorgeous, as is the traditional calligraphy done by her father, Chan Bo Wan. But while I appreciated that the English translation here was faithful to the poetic form of the original, the text just wasn't that pleasing, as English. Song Nan Zhang, who chose to present his English translation in prose, in the similarly bilingual The Ballad of Mulan, made a wiser decision, I think, and if I could combine his text with Lee's illustrations, I would have my ideal "Mu Lan." As it is, I recommend this telling, together with Song Nan Zhang's, for all young readers interested in a more authentic retelling of this tale, particularly those who may only have encountered the Disney version up until now. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 18, 2013 |
The Song of Mu Lan is the story of a girl who dresses as a warrior and goes to war in place of her elder father. Her and her commrads then win the war and come home to the "Son of Heaven". Instead of asking for gold like most others Mu Lan only asks for camels to get home. When she gets home everyone rejoices and she dresses as a girl again. Even after twelve years her comrades still do not know that she is a girl. This is a great story to show children that one gender is just as good as the other. It is also an empowering story for young girls. ( )
  LauraMcQueen | Jan 17, 2013 |
This is a folk song about a girl who joins the army, because her father is too old, and there is no son in the family. She disguises herself because women were not allowed to join the military. It is a wonderful tale about making your parents proud. In the end, an interesting note states that this poem is still taught to the children in China and it is even performed in Chinese operas. I really liked the cool colors that are seen in this book. It was very tranquil to look at. This book would be great to tie into a lesson on Asian folklore. ( )
  jenvid | Sep 9, 2011 |
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A folk song about a girl called Mu-lan who joined the army to substitute for her father; written in Pei chao)

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