Sarah's Stars

Benjamín Santamaría. Tales of the Monkey King
Tundra Books   $22.99   ISBN 0-88776-684-6  30 pg.
Reviewed by Meghan, Age 14

At the beginning of time, the world was divided into four sacred continents-- one to the north, one to the south, one to the west, and one to the east. On the eastern continent rose the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits. Atop that mountain rested a stone. The sun and the moon nourished that stone until one day it split in two, giving birth to a little stone monkey.

Follow the little stone Monkey King as he becomes King of the Monkeys and grows old. Join him as he then journeys across the world to find one of the Immortals and becomes Sun Wu-K'ung. Watch as the brave Monkey King and his wise advisor fight the King of Demons and seek help from the Dragon King. From the Mountain of Mind and Heart right into the kingdom of death itself, journey with the brave Monkey King, as he fights to win immortality for himself and his people.

I entered and sat on the floor amongst them. They fell silent and eyed me warily. How could I free such children from suffering? Then I remembered what a wise man had told me. He had heard it from another wise man who had heard it from another wise man on a day no one can remember. 'Do you like stories?' I asked.

The Monkey King is a hero that all children will love to hear about. The characters are laid out with such descriptive clarity that even listening to the story read aloud you can see them clearly in your mind's eye. Tales of the Monkey King is told in simple clear words, accompanied by beautiful depictive paintings. Benjamín Santamaría was once a street worker with los chavos de la calle, the street children of Mexico City, and Tales of the Monkey King is based on his experiences there. He remains an activist for the human rights of children. I would recommend this story for children ages 7 and up. Most children will probably enjoy having the Monkey King read aloud to them.

I would give Tales of the Monkey King a brave five out of five stars.


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