CHINESE MYTHS & FOLK TALES

(Talking Stone eBook September 2016)

Originally published by Cambridge University Press as
'In the Court of the Jade Emperor – Stories from Old China' 
two editions 1993, 1999







The first C.U.P edition
was selected by the 
Federation of Children’s Book Groups 
for National Tell a Story Week 1994

Great for reading aloud!




REVIEWS OF THE FIRST EDITION

'What riches there are to read here! A wonderful variety of stories... and in a variety of tellers' voices, so that every story is different and a delightful surprise.   The language itself is immediate... The words have a truth and depth... a book both to instruct us on Chinese culture and to delight our narrative thirst. A real find!" – School Librarian 

Rosalind Kerven is the author of a number of excellent retellings of traditional stories from around the world and this collection is as good as the others. The language is lively and direct and she avoids both the archaic and the over-colloquial so that the stories have a timeless feel, but are easy to read." – English and Media Magazine
 

Rosalind Kerven has a fine record of retellings of traditional stories...luminously clear prose... Her style is free of the stilted formality which can still occur in such retellings." – TES

"My ten year old son doesn't like reading but he really enjoyed this book. He said it was different to other stories he had read and it was full of surprises!" – 5-star reader review on www.amazon.co.uk

MEET TRULY ASTONISHING CHARACTERS SUCH AS:
  • King Monkey, the outrageously loveable, mischievous, anarchic anti-hero who ruled the whole world – and tried to take over Heaven too
  • Sea Girl, who climbed a lonely mountain and dived into a lake for the Golden Key, saving her people from dying of thirst
  • Bald Head, whose ocean-warming pig led him into the arms of a dragon princess
  • The talking ox who helped his kindly but impoverished owner to marry a goddess


TRAVEL:

  • On a cloud-trapeze – head over heels 108,000 leagues in a single leap
  • Forward in time with chess-playing fairies
  • Up to the sky and the Palace of Boundless Cold 
  • Down to the Underworld, where King Yama weighs up rewards and punishments for all the souls of the dead.

LEARN ABOUT
  • The secrets of Everlasting Life
  • The origins of yin and yang
  • The realms of the dragon kings
  • The magic horse that makes it rain
And lots more!


My research for this book led deeply into the world of traditional Chinese beliefs – Daoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, the deities of Heaven, the importance of family ancestors and the supernatural world – a fascinating counterpoint to the Western perspective. 

The first section tells of the extraordinary Monkey who tries to take over the whole world and Heaven too, only to be vanquished by the Buddha himself.  It's based on China's much loved 16th Century novel of the same name by Wu Ch’eng-en. My retelling  picks up the whimsical style of the original.  I often used to read this story aloud to older children in primary schools; they were always totally gripped and enthralled by the non-stop action and rich array of enchantment.

It's followed by a selection of China's favourite traditional stories – each one full of surprises, astonishing magic and unforgettable characters.

The stories are complemented by brief notes on traditional Chinese beliefs, updated for the new eBook edition.



CONTENTS

THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF MONKEY
  • In Which Monkey Proves That Nothing Is Impossible
  • In Which Monkey Gets Too Big For His Boots
  • In Which Monkey Tastes The Peaches Of Immortality
  • In Which Monkey Takes A Giant Leap To Nowhere
WOMAN-OF-THE-MOON, MAN-OF-THE-SUN
THE FARMER AND THE WEAVING GODDESS
THE PALACE OF BOUNDLESS COLD
THE GOLDEN KEY
THE MAN WHO DID DRAGON'S WORK
THE HOT PIG AND THE DRAGON PRINCESS
THE GIRL WHO WENT HER OWN WAY
CAKES AND KITCHENS
STORM GIRL
THE BOYS WHO FELL OUT OF TIME
BACKGROUND TO THE STORIES




  'Ask me, ask me, ask me!' chanted another voice. 
  She spun round, and saw a green parrot looking down at her from the branches of a cinnamon tree.   
  'Sea Girl,' said the parrot, 'it is no good looking for the Golden Key until you have found the Dragon King's third and youngest daughter.' 
  'Oh where?' cried Sea Girl; but the parrot had already flown away.
  She turned and walked back into the bamboo forest. Very soon, a peacock alighted before her and began to strut about, displaying his beautiful tail. 
  'It is not “where?”, Sea Girl but “how”,' he said. 'And “how” is easy: you must sing! Go back to the shore and sweeten your throat with more water. Then do not stop singing until the Dragon King's third and youngest daughter comes to you.' 
   So Sea Girl did as the peacock told her. She sat down and sang until her voice was hoarse. By then the sun was turning red and sinking behind the distant slopes. 
   The waters of the lake began to stir and ripple. Slowly, the Dragon King's third daughter came rising out. Her body shimmered like a rainbow: one moment a dragon, the next transformed into a young woman, her necklace of water droplets sparkling with golden sunset fire. 
– from The Golden Key 


ROSALIND KERVEN IS ALSO THE AUTHOR 
OF A THRILLING HISTORICAL FICTION SERIES FOR CHILDREN

PLEASE VISIT