cover image Mulan: Before the Sword

Mulan: Before the Sword

Grace Lin. Disney Press, $16.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-368-02033-6

In this original fantasy prequel to Disney’s 2020 live-action Mulan film by Lin (A Big Mooncake for Little Star), Hua Mulan accompanies the Jade Rabbit of Chinese lore on a quest to save Mulan’s younger sister, Xiu. A formidable, shape-shifting foe named Daji, the White Fox; Daji’s pitiable servant, Xianniang, the Red Fox; and a few Chinese Immortals round out the cast. When a nine-legged spider bites the perfect, demure Xiu, she falls ill. Mulan, along with her beloved horse, Black Wind, is sent to fetch a healer visiting the next village. Revealed to be the Jade Rabbit, the Healer discloses that Xiu has been poisoned by Daji and will die if not given the antidote “before the night of the new moon.” Because a Hua daughter is prophesied to save the Emperor, Daji is intent on Xiu’s death. With the Jade Rabbit also poisoned by Daji, and waylaid at every step by Daji and her minions, Mulan has her work cut out for her. In the midst of this fast-paced quest, Lin’s distinctive peppering of folkloric tales throughout the narrative adds engaging layers, providing backstory and fleshing out characters’ relationships and motives. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Feb.) [/em]