Showing posts with label Mulan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mulan. Show all posts

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. 

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures: Mulan and the Many Versions

In the beginning of the month, I shared with you a wonderful version of Mulan by Li Jian and Yijin Wert is the translator, which Tuttle Publishing sent me to review. I compared it with the Disney version or at least the movie version. I also found a few other versions of Mulan and thought I would share all of them with you. 

The first version is by Robert D. San Souci and is called Fa Mulan. As all of San Souci's books seem to be it is child friendly and tries to give an overview of the culture the story comes from. In this version she has a younger brother and elder sister, and her family knew she was going to go to war in her father's place. They bid her farewell. She rises in ranks with her victories and becomes a general. At the end of the twelve year war her family is happy to greet her and five of her companions who came home with her. She changes from her armor into her normal female clothes and her companions are shocked to learn that their general is a female. One companion hints at the possibility of a shared furture. 

The next two are the ones I compared at the beginning of the month--Disney's version and Li Jian's version. The next book, Mulan: Five Versions of a Classic Chinese Legend with Related Texts edited and translated by Shiamin Kwa and Wilt L. Idema, has five versions of the story in it. Two are poems and the other three are plays. 

Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "Ballad of Mulan" by Cameron Dokey is a young adult version. I enjoyed this version even though the story was changed from all other forms. In this version, her mother died when she was born and her father stayed away at war for most of her life. He did not return until she was fourteen and girls were usually married at age fifteen in China. She had a male best friend who lived next door (but across a creek). They spent all of their free time together. When it came time for her to learn the female arts and the friend to learn the male things, he taught her how to read, write, ride horses, shoot bows and arrows--all the male things. Her father came home to find her with more male habits than female habits. Her father was injured in the war and had upset the emperor. He is accompanied by his good friend another general. Her father falls in love a few weeks after he returns with a widow who has a hurt driver. He marries her and she becomes pregnant. The draft is announced and Mulan sneaks off during the night so her father does not have to leave his new wife and soon-to-be baby (like he had to with her mother). He is not called back to be a general but is called in the general draft which is a blow to him as well. Mulan sneaks off and when questioned at the camp about her bow and arrow (her father's friend gave it to her), she tells them this and they call his assistant who is her best friend. In this version there are three princes--the emperor's sons--and each commands a part of the army. I am going to leave it there as to not ruin the story by giving all the ending away.

The next two books contain a version of Mulan in them. They seem to be translations of the "Ballad of Mulan". The final book, Mulan's Legend and Legacy in China and the United States by Lan Dong, is not a version of Mulan, but actually looks at the things people have pulled from the story and some of the misconceptions Americans have of Ancient China. This is really a research type of book meant for teenagers or older. For example there are other women in China's history who fought in war. Some names to check out are Xun Guan, Zhu Xiu's Mother, Princess Pinyang, and Lady Liang. This book also goes through how Mulan changes through the different versions and what the image of Mulan has become. 

So that is what I found at my local library on Mulan. It is a mixture of books for children, adults and everything in between. It is interesting to see how one story changes so much when you consider the original written version is only 300 words long.

Be sure to check out our Fairy Tales in Different Cultures page for more fairy tale fun.

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures: Mulan

Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing gave me a copy of these books free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

Mulan was a story I really knew nothing about. I had not watched the Disney film when it came out and every time Hazel and I sat down to watch it, she got scared. Mulan was the one Disney princess we did not try to see in Disney World. When I was offered to review some of Tuttle Publishing's books, I thought Mulan would be fun to review to compare with the Disney story for my Fairy Tales in Different Cultures. While receiving Mulan by Li Jian and Yijin Wert is the translator, I also received My First Book of Chinese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book by Faye-Lynn Wu and two other books I will be reviewing at another time.

Now before I go into anything about the stories I have to say all four books I received are beautiful books. They are high quality and the illustrations are amazing. Now the two books I am reviewing here are both about the Chinese and both have Chinese words in them.  

My First Book of Chinese Words goes through our alphabet and gives a Chinese word for that letter. Most of the time the pronunciation of the word begins with the letter. Then it describes the word and also shows you the word in Chinese (and some are in both traditional and simplified). The words themselves teach you more about the Chinese culture. This book is truly a beautiful lesson on culture and language. 

Now onto our fairy tale for this week. The story in this book is in both English and Chinese. It tells the story of Mulan in a non-frightening way based on The Ballad of Mulan. The Ballad of Mulan is a poem written over 1500 years ago in China. It has over 300 words and depicts the legend of the heroine Mulan. This poem is how the story was passed down through the generations. 

In the story in the book Mulan goes to fight in her father's place because he is too old. She has a sister and brother. The brother is too young. Mulan loves to ride horses and shoot arrows and is very good at martial arts before she leaves for war. She dresses as a male so she can fight. Her parents do not want her to go, but they know they have no other choice. Her sister and brother help her prepare for war. She is so good at warfare they have her fighting in the frontline. After twelve years of fighting, the war ends and she gets to return home. The emperor gathers all the heroes to award them for their deeds, but Mulan refuses everything and just asks for a fast horse to return to her family. Some of her fellow soldiers follow her. She goes in and hugs all of her family and then changes from the soldier uniform into her female clothes. She puts on some cosmetics and does her hair. When she greets her fellow soldiers they are surprised to see she is a woman. 

The story in the book is spread out on 42 pages with beautiful illustrations and both the words in English and Chinese. It is truly a wonderful book. 

Now Disney of course changes the story a bit, as they do with all their movies. First they show Mulan as being a failure as a women and dishonoring her family by not being able to be matched with a husband. Next they add the ancestors coming back to life to send a magical being to help bring Mulan home. Of course the magical being does not get awakened and instead she gets their slave dragon that always is messing things up. She also does not have any siblings, but lives with her parents and grandmother. 

She sneaks off in her father's armor with his draft notice. She takes her beloved horse who understands her and she seems to understand completely as well. When she reports for duty and is to be trained she has very little skills in fighting and actually gets told to leave. She however stays and perseveres. They go off to war and find the main army to have been killed (with her leading officer's father the general of the main army). Now their sad army must fight the Hun. She gets smart and aims the fire power at snow hanging on a ledge and buries the enemy in the snow. She however gets injured and the doctor lets them know she is a woman. Her fellow soldiers leave her there since it is a dishonor to have a woman fight. They could have killed her, but since she saved their lives they do not. She however realizes the enemy did not die in the snow. She runs off to warn her soldiers and the emperor. No one will listen to her, but she is able to help them save the emperor and China. They honor Mulan as a woman and the emperor gives her his seal and the enemy's sword since she will not take a position in his cabinet.