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Stone Monkey is Born
Thousands of years ago in China, in the province of Ao-lai, there stood a towering mountain-the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits. At the very top of this mountain, perfectly balanced on its spindly peak, was a rock as big as a castle. It was half-hidden by a thick and pearly mist.
One night a furious storm exploded over the mountain. Never had there been such a storm! Bolts of lightning streaked across the sky. Thunder crashed and howled. Torrents of rain pelted the mountainside, and the animals living there cowered in terror.
Suddenly, there was an earth-shattering blast. Craaaack!
The huge rock on the mountaintop split in two and fell to pieces thousands of feet below. And balanced perfectly on the spindly peak was a glossy stone egg, about two feet around and blacker than the stormiest night.
Strangely enough, as soon as the stone egg appeared, the storm ended. The air became calm and peaceful.
The sun rose and set. The rains fell, and the skies cleared. Ninety-nine days passed. And the egg remained motionless upon the mountaintop.
On the ninety-ninth night a gust of wind in the shape of a dragon descended upon the mountain. Whoosh! The dragon wind breathed fire onto the stone egg. At once it erupted into flame. Howling and roaring, the fireball grew until it was the size of an elephant.
For nine days and nine nights, the egg burned and burned. On the tenth day the fire died out. The egg, too, was gone. In its place on the very top of the mountain stood a small stone monkey.
For one more day all was still.
But the next day, agentle breeze came and tickled the stone monkey. And when it did, the monkey's eyes began to twinkle! Then a soft rain came and washed him, and his stone skin changed into silky, golden fur. The sun came out and shone its warmth upon the monkey, and he began to breathe. Slowly he turned his head from side to side. He stretched his arms and legs and wiggled his fingers and toes. And then, suddenly, he jumped thirty feet into the air, rolled into a perfect somersault-and landed on his feet!
Monkey knelt down and bowed his head to the ground four times: to the east, to the south, to the west, and finally to the north. At last he lifted his head up toward the sky.and laughed! It was a long hearty laugh, powerful enough to shake the tall trees to their roots and cause the earth to tremble.
And most wonderful of all, as Monkey laughed, a beam of light shot out from his eyes and went straight up to Heaven.
Far above the sky, near the North Star, Jade Emperor, Ruler of Heaven and Earth, sat on his dragon throne in the Cloud Palace of the Golden Gates. He was busy meeting with his ministers about the state of the universe when he was rudely interrupted. A shaft of light burst out of nowhere and filled the throne room. Neither Jade Emperor nor his ministers had ever seen such a thing before, not in Heaven nor on Earth.
Jade Emperor did not like mysteries. After all. he was the ruler of the universe! He turned to his two captains, Thousand-League Eye, who could see as far as a thousand leagues, and Thousand-League Ear, who could hear anything as far as a thousand leagues.
"Go find out what this strange light is and where it comes from," Jade Emperor commanded.
The two captains dashed away to the southern gate of Heaven, where they could look down on Earth. In less than the blink of an emperor's eye, they returned.
"Your Majesty," said Thousand-League Eye, "the light is coming from the tallest mountain in the province of Ao-lai. And when I looked more closely at it I saw ... a little monkey."
"A little monkey?" exclaimed Jade Emperor. "Nonsense! How could a little monkey send a beam of light that reached all the way to Heaven?"
Thousand-League Ear bowed. "We can't explain it, Your Majesty," he said, "but when I listened I could hear that little monkey all the way up here. And he was ... laughing."
Jade Emperor leaned back into his dragon throne and stroked his long gray beard. "Well, well," he said at last. "if it is only a little monkey, and he's laughing, there is nothing for us to worry about."
Which only goes to show that even Jade Emperor can be wrong.The Magical Monkey King. Copyright © by Ji-li Jiang. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a great re-telling of the classic Chinese story of the Monkey King and all of the trouble his pride creates. It is funny and engaging. I read it aloud chapter by chapter to my 4-year-old who loves to hear about Monkey King. It is also helpful in learning about traditional Chinese mythology and culture. I highly recommend it.