Family Book Festival

Family Book Festival: Beth Cheng and The Monkey King

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February is Family Book Festival month at Jump Into a Book!


Family Book Festival is a project to help chase away the doldrums of winter by jumping into the favorite books of our author, illustrator, blogger friends. It’s our hope that, not only will we provide reading families with amazing new booklists and activities, but also give the parents a chance to experience a blissful walk down memory lane as they share favorite books from their childhood.

Today we’re joined by Beth Cheng from iGameMom!


What books are favorites in your family?

We have a few books we like.  Since it is close to Chinese New Year, a book related to China is popular in our house right now.  When talking about China related books kids love, anything about Monkey King will jump to the top.  Monkey King is a very well-known name in China, even a preschooler can tell you one or two stories about him.

Monkey King first appeared in the novel “Journey to the West”.  It is a Chinese classic novel written in the 16th century by Wu Cheng-en.  The book was based on a true story of a famous Chinese monk, Xuan Zang (602-664), who traveled on foot to India to seek the Buddhist holy book.  Although Xuan Zang is a true figure in the history, everyone else in the book is not. “Journey to the West” is a mix of Chinese fables, fairy tales, legends, superstitions, popular beliefs, monster stories, and religions.

The Monkey King

In the book, Monkey King accompanied Xuan Zang throughout the journey.  He fought the devils to protect Xuan Zang and the group.  He was extremely smart and capable.  He could transform himself into seventy-two different images such as a tree, a bird, a beast, or a mosquito.  He could jump on top of the clouds and travel 180,000 miles in a single somersault.  Now you can see why kids all love him.

Something to Do

Since I review educational apps for kids, I happened to find these free book apps from a Chinese developer: Journey to the West #1 and #2 ( ).  Both are picture books.  The stories in these two books are about the early life of Monkey King – how he was born from a stone;  became the king of the monkeys at Mount Hua Guo, where he chose to be his home;  and how he took the treasure from Dragon Palace and used it as his weapon.   To know more about these two books and the background of the stories, please visit iGameMom’s book review HERE.

What I liked about these two books: It is multilingual, you can read in English, or Chinese, or Japanese.  You have the option to turn the narration on or off.  Also you can turn it into sleep mode, when there are no pictures shown on the screen, only the narration – a good feature for kids to go to sleep with.

Please do note: these are book apps, not iBooks.  The only difference between book app and iBook is where you go to download them.  You download book apps from iTunes App Store, while you download iBooks from iBookstore.  Both App Store and iBookstore are part of iTunes.

Both books are fun reads, especially for kids.  After reading the book, we decided to do a Chinese craft.  Paper cut is a traditional Chinese folk art with long history.

Chinese New Year Paper Crafts

I found this YouTube video teaching how to do a Monkey paper cut.  There’s a great tutorial HERE on YouTube .

I copied the pattern from the video and did it with my son.  Now we have some fun decorations for the Chinese New Year!

iGameMom is a wonderful site that reviews and recommends educational applications (Apps) for kids. When Beth is not reviewing apps, she is being “mom” and either driving her son around, cheering for his games, or reading a book.

6 thoughts on “Family Book Festival: Beth Cheng and The Monkey King

  1. I did not know how many people know about Monkey King in the US. We liked it very much, especially my son. It is fun for kids, and there are so much (value, tradition, custom, history, …) built into the story. I still think it is a great resource for kids to learn the subtle elements of Chinese culture.

    1. So many people love the Monkey King here. Thanks so much for contributing this wonderful blog post and for sharing your culture with us. It’s just fantastic.

  2. Hello Valerie,

    Isn’t the blogsphere amazing? I went to Beth Cheng’s site because she commented on a post I did about the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. Her post led me to yours…and I’m thrilled!

    I’m grabbing your button for my sidebar…it epitomizes everything I believe about picture books and books in general.

    1. Hello Kindred Spirit !!!! It’s so great to meet you Vivian. I love your site !!!! I’m so happy we’ve discovered each other. I’ve become a friend on Facebook, and will connect in all ways possible. I look forward to following your journey in picture books and beyond.

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