Mulan--Teach your kids the story of Mulan and not only Disney's versions


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Have you seen Disney's live action Mulan yet? It came out on Disney+ a couple of weeks ago for the subscribers that didn't pay for the premium subscription. I made Hazel wait until it was included in our regular subscription. Her love of Mulan was reignited recently. She loved meeting "Mulan" at Disney last February. 

Mulan commented on her nice fighting helmet. She had been watching the animated version quite a bit right before the trip as well as after. We went to Epcot with seeing the princesses in mind. Needless to say she couldn't wait to see the live action movie. We have watched it twice thus far. I have to say I like it better than the animated one. Hazel is torn as to which one she likes better. Now don't get me wrong, I love Disney and their movies. However it really bothers me when they change the story too much. For example, I hate how they don't tell the true story of Pocahontas (and don't get me started about how when we saw Pocahontas at Disney World she was a white woman). Young children are learning history incorrectly from them. The Ballad of Mulan was written over 1,500 years ago. It is a legend in China. The poem has over 300 Chinese characters in it and tells the story of Mulan who disguised herself as a man to fight in the war. (Source: Cultural Explanation in today's book) The truth is we do not know if there ever was a real person, Mulan. (Source) But as we share the story of Mulan with our kids let us teach them the original story and not the Disney's versions full of magic and more. To do this we are sharing today Mulan by Li Jian. (Note: This is the paperback version of the book. I shared the hardcover version previously.)

Let's get the basics over. The book is beautiful. I love the illustrations. They seem so fitting for this old legend. I also love that the words are in both English and Chinese which is true for most of Li Jian's books. I also love how at the end of the book there is a cultural explanation that explains the source of the story of Mulan. This version of Mulan is well written and reads in an interesting story that kids will understand. 

Now let's talk about the story. In this version Mulan is taught by both her mother and father so she is learning typical girl and typical boy talents. It shares that she is best at horses and archery.

In this version Mulan has an elder sister and a younger brother. Her brother is too young for the military, but her siblings help her prepare and her parents know she is leaving. She is doing this to defend the family honor.

Mulan disguises herself as a male so she can fight. She is talented at fighting so she is right in the thick of things leading the fighters. She is always afraid to be caught as a woman but uses her talents to help China. She is in the army for twelve years! 

Mulan is seen as a hero by her fellow soldiers. Her gender is not discovered. In fact her fellow soldiers are shocked when she is home and comes out to greet them dressed as a woman.

The story does not tell us if the Emperor ever knows of Mulan's true identity. There isn't even a love story. But of course Disney creates one. I am glad that in Disney's versions Mulan saves her fellow soldiers and they don't save her though. I love that Mulan in any version shows a strong young woman. She is courageous and true to herself. She is the type of hero we want for our girls! I hope you will check out this version of story which is closer to the original Ballad of Mulan than Disney.