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China: Child Heroes and Others

Amrita Narayanan

Everyone loves children, but in China they are treated as very special people. There are millions of them, who are not only taught the three Rs. but are given training for the Chinese way of life. There are many children's books pub­lished in China, but very few of them have been translated into English. It is therefore a very welcome thing to have these children's books under review published by the Foreign Languages Press, Peking. These books are intended not merely for entertainment, but also to give a moral and social lesson. Even if they are old fables, they contain a lesson for the Chinese child in a modern sense. Adapted by Wang-pei and illustrated by Chao Hung-pen and Chieu Hsiao-tai, Monkey Subdues the White Bone Demon is a story told in cartoon. It is based on an episode from the mythical novel 'Pilgri­mage to the West'. It is strange that here 'west' refers to India. Its hero, 'Monkey' is a fearless, loveable disciple of the monk, Hsuan Tsang and it is interesting to see that this 'monkey' can be compared to our 'Hanuman'. In this story, the monk, Hsuan Tsang, is escorted by his disciples—Mon­key, Pigsy and Sapdy—to the West, in search of the Buddhist scriptures. Due to his supernatural powers, Monkey is chosen to lead the way. He performs many heroic deeds, one of them being their encounter with the White Bone Demon. The Demon tries her best to deceive the monk by disguising herself as a maiden going to the temple. However she does not succeed as Monkey appears and strikes her down. The Pemon appears in various other forms but the Monkey is not taken in. Unfortunately, Hsuan Tsang sends Monkey away as he did not behave as a Buddhist disciple should. Anyhow the monk is finally captured and is about to be eaten, when Monkey disguised as the Demon's mother saves him. Only then does the monk realize that people are not always what they appear to be.     . Hatred From Water Dungeon is a different type of story. Written by Cheu Tse- yuan and Liu Chih-Kuei and beautifully and dramatically illustrated by Hsu Heng­Yu, it relates the history of a poor peasant girl, Huang Lien-Ting, whose family is treated brutally by the landlord Liu, (King of Heu). After her parents' death, Huang is forced to work for him, but ...

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