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Chinese Fairy Tales

Region: East Asia, China

Author: Folktales in English rendition and retelling by Frederick Herman Martens

Original Language: Chinese

Translator: Frederick Herman Martens

Illustrator: Yuko Green

Genre: Folktales, Fantasy

Descriptors: animals; folktales; dragons; emperors; fables; fairy tales; princesses. 

Age: 8+ years old

Programming: Coloring Activity


The Dover Children’s Thrift Classics Chinese Fairy Tales features a collection of 16 Chinese fables for children ages 8 and up. In the collection are stories with universal appeal, such as “Why Dog and Cat Are Enemies,” where a dog and cat plot together to bring their masters riches, but the cat tricks the dog in the end so that only the cat is rewarded for all the work. There are also more traditional tales such as “The Lady of the Moon,” which tells the story of how the wife of prince Hou I, Tschang O, becomes the Lady of the Moon after eating the herb of immortality. One day, the emperor, with the help of two sorcerers, creates a magic bridge to the Moon. They are greeted by the Moon’s inhabitants and the Lady of the Moon celebrates their arrival with beautiful music which the emperor has written down when he returns to Earth. The collection consists mostly of text but also includes 18 delightful line-art illustrations by Yuko Green. The more traditional stories, requiring more context for Western readers, feature notes at the end that describe the important aspects of Chinese culture, history, and mythology present in the story. Children from all over the world will enjoy these magical tales populated with animals, princesses, dragons, and more. 

More About This Book

Reviewed: print book by Dover Publications (1998). ISBN: 0486401405, 9780486401409 80 p. 

Resources: Stories included in this collection are from The Chinese Fairy Book (1921), published by Frederick A. Stokes Company in New York and translated from Chinese to English by Frederick Herman Martens. Only a few of these stories have been read for the purpose of this review.

Content warning: “Why Dog and Cat Are Enemies” has a brief mention of the pet owners beating the dog at the end of the story. 

Additional Sources 

Reviewed by Leah Byrnes

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