A long, long time ago, in a magical version of ancient China, an island called Aolai stood in the sea like a king in his palace. In the center of the island was Flower Fruit Mountain, and at the very top of the mountain was a large stone, as tall as six men. The stone was made pregnant by heaven and earth, and one day the wind blew over the egg and it cracked open. A little stone monkey emerged. He opened his eyes, and two beams of light shot up to heaven. The Jade Emperor on his throne saw the beams of light but he did not interfere.
The little stone monkey grew up to be Sun Wukong, the Handsome Monkey King.
Journey to the West is probably the most famous and best-loved novel in China and is considered one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature. The original Chinese novel written by Wu Chen’en in the 16th century is over a half million Chinese characters long, and a direct English translation runs over 2,000 pages and has a very large vocabulary.
This book is not a literal translation of the Journey to the West. Rather, it’s a retelling of the story in easy-to-read English. Unlike the other full-text translations, this is a graded reader that uses a restricted vocabulary, simpler sentence structure, and fewer proper nouns. The chapters start off quite easy and gradually increase in complexity. For example, the first chapter is written at a grade level of 2.6 (using the Flesh-Kincaid scale), while the final chapter is written at a grade level of 5.1.