Cover image for Monkey King
Monkey King
Young, Ed.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
In his journey to a more enlightened state, a monkey must end his trickery and understand that there is strength in admitting weakness. Based on a section of the Chinese epic "Journey to the West."
Reading Level:
AD 710 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.8 0.5 46505.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.8 2 Quiz: 24365 Guided reading level: NR.
Geographic Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



From a fantastic explosion is born the legendary Monkey King, the clever and courageous hero of one of the best-known stories from China.

Ambitious Monkey travels to Square Inch Mountain, where he trains with Master Putt to perfect the art of turning cloud somersaults, riding the wind, changing shape, and disappearing in the blink of an eye.Then Monkey eagerly shows off his magic skills by tricking Dragon King and battling Jade Emperor. Monkey is so arrogant, he even gets into trouble with Buddha himself.

Caldecott Award-winning author-illustrator Ed Young has created colorful and lively collages and specially designed two fold-out pages to animate the story of Monkey King and his acrobatic, high-spirited adventures. This unprecedented picture-book adaptation introduces just the beginning of the classic epic Journey to the West, about the mission to bring Buddhist scriptures to China. Monkey is only one of its many characters, but he is undeniably the most beloved of them all.

Author Notes

Caldecott Medalist Ed Young is the illustrator of over eighty books for children, seventeen of which he has also written. Born in Tientsin, China in 1931, Ed Young grew up in Shanghai and later moved to Hong Kong. As a young man, he came to the United States on a student visa to study architecture but turned instead to art.

Young began his career as a commercial artist but found himself looking for something more expansive, expressive, and timeless. He discovered all this, and more, in children's books. Young's quest for challenge and growth are central in his role as illustrator.

A graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Young has since taught at the Pratt Institute, Yale University, Naropa Institute, and the University of California at Santa Cruz.

In 1990, his book Lon Po Po was awarded the Caldecott Medal. He has also received two Caldecott Honors - for The Emperor and the Kite and Seven Blind Mice - and was twice nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the highest international recognition given to children's book authors and illustrators who have made a lasting contribution to children's literature.

In addition to Ed Young's writing and illustration career, he is also a respected master of t'ai chi and has been teaching students for over 30 years.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. "Once upon a time, on a faraway island off the coast of ancient China, a rock exploded on Flower Fruit Mountain. A live monkey emerged." So begins this wildly illustrated tale adapted from the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. The original epic story describes a monk's journey from China to India in search of religious scriptures. Young's telling focuses on the irrepressible Monkey King, who aids the monk in his quest. Named a king for his cleverness, ambitious Monkey learns magic from a master. After several battles and tricks, Buddha strips Monkey of his powers, but restores the magic when Monkey agrees to escort monk Tang on a journey. Monkey successfully protects the monk, but only when he asks for help, which is the heavy message at the end of the story. The plot makes lightning-quick leaps across time, landscapes, and logic, and children without exposure to similar stories may struggle with the tale's esoteric qualities. But the language is lively and rich, and the lushly textured cut-paper collages, while abstract, beautifully illustrate the action-hero excitement, There's also a deeper religious significance here, as in the boundless quality expressed in the beautiful fold-out image of the Buddha's hand. Whether they see the glimmer of religious themes or just enjoy the fast-flying plot, children will be intrigued by this strikingly designed Buddhist tale. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

Caldecott Medalist Young (Lon Po Po) opts for elegance in this deceptively simple adaptation of Chinese myth. In piquant phrases and minimalist collages, he summarizes the antics of the Monkey King, a trickster hero. Monkey has learned "the art of turning cloud somersaults, riding the wind, changing shape, and disappearing in the blink of an eye," and he uses his magic for mischief. While serving the Jade Emperor, he "plucked all the forbidden fruit from the immortal peach tree and gobbled them up. Then he tumbled home before anyone could punish him." Monkey's evocatively named opponents, including Dragon King and Red Beard Bandit, cannot defeat him, and finally Jade Emperor seeks Buddha's intervention. In an impressive gatefold spread, Monkey is trapped in the shadowy Five Finger Mountain, actually Buddha's obsidian hand. Upon his release 500 years later, Monkey improves his behavior on the path to enlightenmentD"but it wasn't always easy to stay good." Young bases this distilled saga on Wu Cheng'en's Buddhist epic, The Journey to the West, which he glancingly mentions in an afterword. The tale may be better suited to older readers who can handle its epic qualities and some characters' cameo appearances. His cut-paper compositions, in earthy shades of spice and sky, might be described as freestyle; pencil marks remain visible and shapes are imperfectly carved, requiring plenty of imagination. Young's dynamic artwork and his mercurial transitions between spreads mimic Monkey's own shape-shifting, making for deliciously unpredictable reading. All ages. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-A rock explodes, a monkey emerges, and thus begins a very abbreviated version of the first part of the Chinese epic, Journey to the West. Following his dramatic creation, Monkey evolves into a trickster and entangles himself in many adventures, outwitting numerous adversaries and falling out of grace with others. His encounters with mortals, animals, and deities reveal his multifaceted character; at times, greedy and conniving, he can also be resourceful and loyal. And as he serves as a disciple to holy monk Tang, he learns a lesson about admitting to weakness-but "Did Monkey's humility last? That's another story for another book." Vibrant paper collages set against purple and gold backgrounds swirl and plunge with energetic Monkey and reinforce his quicksilver nature. However, the sheer number of characters he meets, and escapades in which he indulges, can be overwhelming, especially since they are, of necessity, briefly introduced. Even the striking illustrations (including an extravagant double gatefold) are confusing at times. The typestyle is large but the vocabulary will challenge readers attracted to the open format. The author provides a helpful list of major characters with a one or two sentence summary of their roles in the saga as well as a more detailed history of the epic itself. This is a simplified and serviceable introduction to a long and complex Chinese tale but its staccato presentation is likely to leave young listeners confused and more than a bit breathless.-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.