The Monkey King’s Daughter
Written by T. A. Bonis
Published by DVtvfilm.com
Publication date: 1st June 2019
Summary (from Goodreads):
The Monkey King’s Daughter isn’t about Sun Wukong, the Monkey King – it’s about his daughter, Meilin. Only, Meilin doesn’t know she’s the Monkey King’s daughter. In fact, she doesn’t know she’s half-monkey at all. As far as Meilin knows, she’s an ordinary 14 year-old high school freshman from Midland Hills, California, facing all the problems that bright young girls face at that age- flakey girlfriends, zits, too much homework, bad hair, obnoxious boys… But all of that changes when her ancient past catches up with her. (And she thought high school was gonna be easy…)
The Monkey King’s Daughter (Book One) is a new series of novels that introduces a totally fresh and exciting action/adventure hero to 8-13 year old readers.
“Just once, I’d like to have a normal birthday.” Meilin said softly, regaining her composure and wiping her eyes. “A friend over. Hamburgers instead of mooncake. See a movie. Go rollerblading. Be like the other kids. Is that too much to ask?”
First impressions: I was excited to read this as soon as I heard the description, because I loved the original story of the Monkey King and enjoy stories with bilingual and bicultural protagonists. Getting to read books like this, that I might not otherwise have come across, is one of my favourite things about taking part in Multicultural Children’s Book Day.
This was an original, fast-paced middle-grade adventure story where the main character, a Chinese-American girl named Meilin, wakes up to find that her whole life has been a lie. It turns out that she is actually the Monkey King’s Daughter and has inherited some of his magical skills…as well as some of his enemies!
Meilin is a realistic and relatable teenage girl. I particularly like how she had conflicting feelings about her Chinese heritage, feeling proud of some parts and struggling to reconcile it with her American surroundings in others. This is something that many children growing up in two cultures can feel, especially when they haven’t learned their heritage language to a high-enough level to feel some ownership over that ‘side’ of their culture. Her mother and Uncle Zhu were both interesting characters; at first quite straightforward, then gradually revealing more layers as the story continued.
This is sure to be a hit with anyone who loved the original antics of the Monkey King or who is looking for an adventure like no other!
“It’s the place of legend and storybook heroes you grew up with as a child – a beautiful and magical world that’s come under the spell of Darkness.”
“No, ” Meilin said, shaking her head, “In those stories, the heroes always won.”
“True,” Zhu Bajie agreed, “But those stories have already been written. This one – your story – hasn’t.”
What I liked: How Meilin’s experiences in the other world translated into newfound confidence in her ‘real’ world, the fast pace of the adventure, Meilin’s friendship with Jessie, the discussions surrounding Me-lin’s connection with her culture and language, the references to the original story of the Monkey King.
Even better if: The fight scenes were very fast and detailed, but I would have liked it if Meilin had spent some more time developing her powers, rather than magically being able to do everything straightaway. I felt that her decision to go back to her own world could have been explored further – how did her father and mother feel about this? I would have liked a bit more use of Chinese.
How you could use it in your classroom: This would be a great recommendation for any young readers who would like a fast-paced adventure and could be an interesting discussion starter about growing up with two languages or cultures.
(Thank you very much to the author for sending me a review copy of this book! It will now be joining my classroom library where it will be enjoyed by lots of children!)
Thanks for reading!
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!
Medallion Level Sponsors
Super Platinum: Make A Way Media
BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift, T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear Press/Dow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield,
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