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Book #4 of Skyhook World Classics!

The Monkey King

A Superhero Tale of China
Retold from The Journey to the West

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By Aaron Shepard

Cover art by Xiaojun Li

If you think Superman or Spiderman has been around a long time, think about Monkey. He has been China’s favorite superhero for at least five centuries. He’s amazingly strong, he can fly, and he has a few tricks those other superheroes never heard of. And he’s always ready to do battle with demons, dragons—sometimes even the gods.

Monkey stars in The Journey to the West, an epic comic fantasy from the sixteenth century. The part retold here is about Monkey’s origin and early career—and the one time he didn’t come out on top.

Chapter book Ages 10 & up


Aaron Shepard is the award-winning author of The Baker’s Dozen, The Sea King’s Daughter, The Monkey King, and many more children’s books, while his Web site is known internationally as a prime resource for folktales, storytelling, and reader’s theater. Once a professional storyteller, Aaron specializes in lively retellings of folktales and other traditional literature, which have won him honors from the American Library Association, the New York Public Library, the Bank Street College of Education, the National Council for the Social Studies, and the American Folklore Society.

Xiaojun Li, a native of Inner Mongolia, was an award-winning children’s book illustrator and art director in China before moving to the United States.


Skyhook Press

Paperback ~ 2005 (as Monkey)

Paperback ~ 2008

Hardcover ~ 2008

Ebook ~ 2009

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COMMENTS ON SKYHOOK WORLD CLASSICS

“Shepard’s Skyhook World Classics series retells portions of epic narratives sure to pique kids’ interest. He cannily selects episodes likely to grab the attention of a wide range of middle-graders, [while] his storytelling voice varies to hint at the style of the original. These mini-novels would make fun classroom readalouds, too. No dumb-downs ... Rated S for Snapped Up.”—S.C.Poe, Route 19 Writers

“What a wonderful way to expose and broaden the minds of our young people and adults. To be transported to another place and time. To experience stories that have lasted for centuries ... These books have taken my grandsons away from their video and DVD games.”—Sandra Heptinstall, Whispering Winds Book Reviews

“Aaron Shepard does for folklore and epic poems what Charles and Mary Lamb did for Shakespeare in the 1800s—produces short, exciting, plot-centered adaptations that make the originals accessible to readers young and old, and that may tempt you to dip into the real thing someday.”—Susan Chapek

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“Here I am, only four hundred years old,” said the Monkey King, “and I’ve already reached the heights of greatness. What is left to hope and strive for? What can be higher than a king?”

“Your Majesty,” said the gibbon carefully, “we have ever been grateful for that time four centuries ago when you hatched from the stone, wandered into our midst, and found for us this hidden cave behind the waterfall. We made you our king as the greatest honor we could bestow. Still, I must tell you that kings are not the highest of beings.”

“They’re not?” said the Monkey King.

“No, Your Majesty. Above them are gods, who dwell in Heaven and govern Earth. Then there are Immortals, who have gained great powers and live forever. And finally there are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, who have conquered illusion and escaped rebirth.”

“Wonderful!” cried the Monkey King. “Maybe I can become all three!” He considered a moment, then said, “I think I’ll start with the Immortals. I’ll search the earth till I’ve found one, then learn to become one myself!”


Sample text copyright 1997, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008 Aaron Shepard. Illustration copyright 2005, 2008 Xiaojun Li.


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