Reviews for The ballad of Mulan

School Library Journal
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Gr 2-5-The poem about a girl who dresses as a man and becomes a soldier to save her ailing father from conscription has long been known in China. This bilingual edition, translated into third-person narrative prose, is set firmly in the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534), when the poem may have originated. Mulan puts on armor, takes up sword and spear, and fights with the army for 10 years. She is so successful that the emperor offers her a rich reward, but she asks only to return to her village. Once home, she puts on women's clothes, convincing her former comrades that courage and fighting skills are not the province of men alone. Zhang's literal interpretations of classic Chinese landscape paintings are stiffly formal, lacking the freshness, spontaneity, and strong sense of composition that distinguishes his work in Little Tiger in the Chinese Night (1993) and Cowboy of the Steppes (1997, both Tundra). In contrast to Jeanne M. Lee's The Song of Mu Lan (Front Street, 1995), this book shows human characters as heroic but cold, while the backgrounds are so cluttered that the main artistic narrative is hard to follow. Lee's text, mostly first-person narration by Mulan herself, is also more immediate and vivid. A detailed historical note is appended, along with the text of the poem in simplified Chinese characters. Libraries with extensive Chinese collections will want this new title, but Lee's version remains the first choice.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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