King of All Monkeys

With a four-year-old boy in the house, we spend a lot of time talking about, dressing up as, watching, and otherwise channeling the great spirit of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King. L and his Baba spend many hours telling the numerous, intricate stories from the epic Journey to the West, and the full DVD set of the CCTV animated mini-series (52 episodes), provided by an uncle in Shenzhen, is just about the only movie or TV L watches. He loves the characters: A magical, omnipotent but mischievous monkey; his traveling companions a Buddhist monk, a pig, and a white dragon horse, and all the creatures they encounter on their way to India, where they have been sent to retrieve Buddhist scriptures.

We have many books which tell stories of Sun Wukong’s adventures. L’s favorite, which has beautiful illustrations with tales adapted into short but detailed stories easily digested by four-year-olds, is published by the Shanghai Century Publishing Group (上海世纪出版集团少年儿童出版社) and is hard to find outside of China. But another favorite that is in both English and Chinese, and is more widely available here (including from Amazon) is Tang Monk Disciples Monkey King. This is part of a series by the same authors.

The CCTV-produced animated series is a rich, beautifully conceived piece of work which, with 52 episodes, provides endless entertainment. The full set can be bought on VCD through ChinaSprout. L has memorized and frequently belts out the theme songs from the series. Clips of the songs are on YouTube (see below).

The lyrics for the first song, Hou Ge 猴哥, are here.

For those without access to the CCTV series, we have also found a Chinese animation of the story from the 1960s, available on YouTube in several parts, which L also really enjoys. Episode One is below:

The story of Journey to the West has many layers, with aspects that appeal to many different ages, so I am sure it will be a part of our lives for many years to come.

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  1. [...] so it’s not really an issue. (Now, if Pixar were to produce a decent blockbuster based on the Monkey King, it might be a different story…) But that all changed this summer, when Xi Yang Yang (ie [...]

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  3. I would like to know who did the artwork of the monkey king, please :)

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