by Natali T. Del Conte, Staff Writer Oakland Tribune
When Eileen Hu's father went to Hollywood in the 1950's to
pursue a movie career, he was told that despite being Chinese,
he was too tall and did not look enough like a gangster to play
a Chinese man.
Among her disappointments is the way the girl warrior Mu Lan is
depicted in the 1998 Disney animated film.
To help right some of the wrongs, Hu's publishing company,
Victory Press, has published a Mu Lan gift set. The set includes
an accurately depicted Mu Lan doll, an audio cassette tape and a
fully-illustrated book that tells Mu Lan's tale in both English
and either Chinese, Vietnamese, French or Spanish.
Mu Lan is famous for disguising herself as a man to represent her family in battle in place of her infirm father. She fought in bloody campaigns for several years before she returned home. After the war, she was summoned to the court by the emperor who wished to appoint her to high office as a reward for her outstanding service. She declined . . . Her former comrades didn't learn she was a woman until much later, when they visited her at home.
Victory Press' version of the legend was written and illustrated in Beijing by a well-known father-daughter team, Cheng An Jiang and Wei Jiang, who have written other books about ancient China and East Asia for the publishing house.
Victory Press' Web site also features a lesson plan written by
home-school teacher Terrie Bittner. The plan includes links to
history lessons about China, Disney, Mu Lan and other famous women
"I think history provides a good basis for any subject you want
to teach," says Bittner, who has her own education Web site for
You can e-mail Natali T. Del Conte at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Selicia Kennedy-Ross, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Magnolia Junior High School seventh-grader Marcia McGuire proved
last week that the spirit of Mulan is alive and well in the
Victory Press, publisher of The Legend of Mulan: A Heroine of Ancient China which was published in 1992, sponsored the true "Spirit of Mulan" essay contest.
"My grandmother recently passed away," said Marcia, 13. " She wrote
about her life in a letter and I read it. Her life reminded me of
Mulan's in certain ways."
Entrants selected a theme from seven different topics. Marica chose to write her essay comparing the general spirit to Mulan in the 20th century to the spirit of her grandmother, Pansy Wong.
From the rich history of ancient China, the legend of Mulan has passed through generations and dynasties. The story of Mulan is based on a 2,000 year-old Chinese poem about a girl who disguises herself as a man in order to join the army in her father's place.
Disney released a widely popular film last year based on the legend of Mulan. Children from 7 to 15 were eligible to enter the contest.
Marica's essay was chosen from more than 100 entries. Entries were judged according to content, writing style, grammar and punctuation.
Eileen Hu, publisher of Victory Press based in Monterey, which
publishes multicultural children's books, sponsored the contest
to insure that the story of Mulan was correctly portrayed.
When Disney's Mulan opened in Hunan, China, on Feb. 23, its
reception was cool, according to China's Xinhua News Agency.
The film closed in China's Hunan province after taking in only
$30,000 in less than 22 days.
"We wanted to give the youth an opportunity to capture the essence of the poem which has lasted throughout generations," Hu said.
The film will open in Beijing on Sunday.