The moon will be full this Friday- forget the man you’ve been taught to look for. Can you find the shape of a rabbit and a lady?
In China, around the time of the September full moon is the Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s a quiet gathering with lanterns, moon cakes, friends and loved ones, but my favorite part is the story of Chang’e.
Chang’e was the wife of the Sun. He had something special: a pill of Immortality. There are many different versions of the story, but in the one I know, Chang’e takes the pill to prevent it getting stolen by some thieves. She grows, oh so round, so bright, and with her little rabbit, floats up to the moon! There she lives forever in a jade castle with her rabbit, in lonely and luminous splendor. A few times a year, she gets to visit her husband the Sun… but to us, it just looks like an eclipse.
This story is so easy to find online: here is just one version.
But I’m always a bookworm, so of course I can recommend a book for you: Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats. It’s warmer, gets more into the characters and is more in-depth.
I absolutely love this book- it has stories and activities for all of the lunar Chinese festivals. The activities are lovely. I will be using it again for the New Year.
Illustration by Trina Schart Hyman
“I cried when Rey picked up the light saber too. And it wasn’t because it was the greatest movie ever. It was because I’d been waiting thirty years and more for a girl to pick up a light saber, and I never even realized it before.”
My sister posted this on facebook last winter (here is the article she was responding to; it’s quite a good read). It stuck in my mind this year as I was telling Saint George and the Dragon and one little student, a first grade girl, asked if George’s sword was like Rey’s.
I haven’t seen Rey’s movie, but I remembered the words of my sister. And I knew that little girl needed a dragon to slay!
I want to share with you The Serpent Slayer, a fantastic book all about warrior girls, pirate girls, clever women who trick the bandits out of treasure, sassy old women who outsmart the devil, and a gentle sun girl who saves and heals a dragon prince. I would have loved this book when I was little. I had a wonderful cozy rainy morning spending some time with it and my inner child.
It wasn’t like she didn’t know she was a hero. She just never had the stories to match her own. Well, now she does.
PS. I’ve found little boys love stories with a girl hero just fine. As long as there are pirates, dragons and monsters, the gender of the protagonist doesn’t seem to matter.