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age:11+,  publisher:Pushkin Children's Books, format: paperback, page_number: 160 pages, year_published 2020, series:True,Ancient China, loyalty, genre_nonfiction:true stories

Bandit's Daughter Kung Fu Girl in Ancient China

Published: 5 Nov 2020

Paperback / softback, 160 pages

Recommended for age 11+

By Simon Mason

Published by Pushkin Children's Books

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At the beginning of the 11th century, General Yang sends his son Zongbao to exterminate the bandit living in Dragon-Taming Wood. In the forest, Zongbao is surprised by the bandit's teenage daughter, a kung fu prodigy, who challenged him to unarmed combat. Her deal? If Zongbao wins, she will lead him to her father's secret hideout. If she wins, she will take him to her father as her prisoner. So begins Mu Guiying's extraordinary story, which will end with a spectacular battle for the destiny of her country.

Tagged ancient China and loyalty

The True Adventures series

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Reviewed by Ellie Labbett

Bandit’s Daughter is a vivid adventure that follows the legendary warrior, Mu Guiying, on a dramatic journey defending her country. In Ancient China there is trouble afoot. General Yang fights the constant threat of invasion, all the while civil unrest is stirred by a disloyal bandit. But when the General’s son sets out to search for the traitor, he is halted by the unlikeliest of sources. The Bandit’s daughter, Mu Guiying, challenges him to a duel, and the events that take place leave the two families inextricably linked. With their fathers once sworn as enemies, the younger generation unite in a bid to defend their country. Could Mu Guiying’s cunning, steel and ability to imagine beyond common battle tactics make her the person to bring peace to China?

In Bandit’s Daughter, Mason grapples with the complexities of loyalty and betrayal through his protagonist’s decisions regarding her family, country and herself. As a determined warrior and fierce leader, she defies many conventions expected of a woman at this point in history, and yet it is precisely in ignoring these conventions that she is able to defend her country. It is interesting to see how the protagonist balances loyalty to her family roots and love for her father, with the decision to see beyond his beliefs about the Yang dynasty. Mu Guiying’s story could be one to springboard independent investigations into extraordinary women throughout history, and would partnership perfectly with the Fantastically Great Women series by Kate Pankhurst.

Based on a Chinese legend and a part of the True Adventures series, Bandit’s Daughter would be an excellent bridge for Year Six pupils that ordinarily read nonfiction books to venture into fiction. Mason includes a detailed timeline of Ancient China, the time period that this story is set, which offers a fascinating insight into Mu Guiying’s historical roots. A guide to the correct pronunciation of many of the names and places featured in the story is also a welcome addition to the text and will be helpful for authentically reading aloud in the classroom. This story is short in length, taking place across just under 150 pages. With the addition of Pinelli’s illustrations, which bring many of the epic fight scenes to life, Bandit’s Daughter would be a great choice for pupils that are building their reading stamina and confidence. Other titles in this series include Catherine Johnson’s Queen of Freedom: Defending Jamaica, which was shortlisted for for the Jhalak Prize 2021.

I have recently completed my primary teaching degree and am passionate about the power of reading in changing lives. I am committed to championing diverse children’s literature and ensuring that every child feels valued and seen in the stories that they read.