Monday, July 6, 2009

The Song of Mu Lan

The Song of Mu Lan

Written and Illustrated by: Jeanee M. Lee

Elementary Grades

"Reflecting a combination of delicacy and strength, this translation of an ancient Chinese poem tells of a girl named Mu Lan, who, disguised as a man, goes to war in her father's place, and fights for 12 hard years before returning home. The song-like text, epic in feel, is best read aloud: it attains a simple majesty, an eloquence that belies its spare words: "War drums ring in the brittle air. The cold moon shines on steel." Dominated by hues of amber and sandalwood, Lee's (Silent Lotus) glowing watercolor paintings bow to traditional East Asian artistry; the expansive desert sands and mountain ranges are dotted with soldiers' tunics, flags, horses and bonsai-like trees, striking a balance between war and nature's silent grace. Elegantly presented, the book pulses with striking touches such as the Chinese text (rendered in fine calligraphy by Lee's father) which appears on each page; and the Sung and Ming Dynasty versions of this poem that are handsomely reproduced on the end papers. Powerful and understated."

Publishers Weekly Review

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