Mulan never knew her mother. She never sees her father. Raised by servants, she grows up without much guidance. She has the usual female skills like embroidery. However, she can also shoot a bow and fight with a sword. These unlikely skills are courtesy of her best friend Li Po.
Mulan's life becomes a bit more traditional when her father returns home and remarries. Mulan is happy. Her father and stepmother are happy. Sadly, the Huns have no regard for happiness. They decide to invade China. All soldiers are called up including Mulan's aging and wounded father.
To safeguard her father's health and happiness, Mulan does what she must. She goes to war. She makes an admirable soldier and ultimately saves China. Mulan discovers just what she made of during her adventure.
What I thought: Mulan is my favorite Disney cartoon. I've always loved the story of courageous Mulan. This retelling is lovely. After reading it, I immediately read a version of the original "Ballad of Mulan." Like most fairy tales, the ballad is straightforward and simple. Mulan goes to war in her father's place, saves China, and brings honor to her family. Dokey has taken that story and given it real depth. The characters are beautifully developed. I loved that Mulan wasn't completely anonymous as a soldier--Li Po and her father's best friend knew. Highly Recommend for fairy take fans. Cameron Dokey has written several other fairy tale re-tellings.
Other books by Cameron Dokey in the "Once Upon a Time Series":
The Storyteller's Daughter (2002) [Arabian Nights]
Beauty Sleep (2002) [Sleeping Beauty]
Sunlight and Shadow (2004) [The Magic Flute]
Golden (2006) [Rapunzel]
Before Midnight (2007) [Cinderella]
Belle (2008) [Beauty and the Beast]
Winter's Child (2009) [Snow White]
The World Above (2010) [Jack and the Beanstalk]
(New York: Simon Pulse, 2009.)