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Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "The Ballad of Mulan" (Once Upon a Time)
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Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "The Ballad of Mulan" (Once Upon A Time Fairytales)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  4,121 ratings  ·  380 reviews
"Once upon a Time" Is Timeless

Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidery needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons a great army, each family must send a male to fight. Tomboyish Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call.

But Mulan never expects to find a friend, le
Mass Market Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Simon Pulse
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Community Reviews

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This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 07, 2014 Cara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cara by: Valerie
Shelves: fantasy, fairy-tales
Now I am an "official" I guess you could say fan now. I've read a substantial amount of these books, and now I have to read them all. Dokey is the author that writes most of these retellings and for a good reason. She's excellent at setting the stage but for some reason at the climax you just want more, but I'm happy to report that this one felt totally satisfying.

Here we have the story of Mulan. I thought that it was an interesting idea to put this in the fairy tale category. I wouldn't have th
Cameron Dokey never fails to get her point across. I love the Disney movie Mulan so I had no doubt that I wouldn't at least like this book. I'm getting used to these short books.

Mulan is a great protagonist. She is different from other girls and longs to be taught something other than embroidering and being a proper young girl. So she learns (from her neighbor and friend)to read, shot arrows, sword fight, etc. Basically what boys are supposed to be learning, not girls. The only downside to this
Prior to reading Wild Orchid, my only exposure to the story of Mulan was through the animated Disney film (which I haven’t seen since its release about ten years ago). It’s refreshing to see the Once Upon a Time series expand its boundaries from the traditional European folk & fairy tale canon. While Dokey’s fairy tale heroines tend to be somewhat similar – they want to follow their hearts and develop their own identities in spite of forces arrayed against them – Mulan’s story stands out bec ...more
I loved Mulan (the disney movie) as a kid, but I forgot how much until I read that book. I now remember why I loved it and now love it again.

Smart and Brave Heroine: CHECK
Mulan has literally virtue that I admire: bravery, strength, I love that she isn't afraid to be different or to be herself. She just wishes she could be herself without disgracing her family or her warrior father. She is so brave and strong. She is one of my favorite Heroines now.

Sweet and Brave Hero: CHECK
Even though he's not
Oct 02, 2012 Elevetha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of fairytales retold, reimagined, or twisted on it's side
2.5 stars. Retelling of "The Ballad of Mulan". Enjoyable enough to read.

It really focuses on Mulan and her family. I liked that a lot. Her relationships with her father, step-mother, best friend, etc. are believable and sweet. I especially liked how close her father and her became by the end of the book. And I truly appreciated the step-mother being nice and caring; not a witch.

It is pretty much all Mulan's childhood and growth into a young woman until her family receives the summons for a man
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for

Mulan's mother died during labor. Her father, a great General in the army, was heartbroken. He's never been home since he heard the news. Thus, Mulan lost both her parents on the same day.

Mulan is not your typical girl. Instead, she climbs trees and despises needlework. She meets the boy next door and the two of them form a friendship. He teaches her archery, how to ride a horse, how to use a sword, and, finally, how to read and write.

When her fath
Fun, quick read. I'm always happy with a happy love story ending as well.

I do have to say that I think they could have gotten a more oriental looking girl to model for the cover. I'm annoyed by the girl every time I look at the cover.
Janus Vielle (The Blair Book Project)
Not exactly a tale that I find memorable and exciting. I appreciated the first parts of this book but as the story progressed, I came to notice how shallow and uneventful it turned out to be.

I didn’t get to know the characters very well. Mulan’s character was fairly established but as for everyone else, I just got a glimpse or two of their names and not much of their personality. I also find that Mulan’s love interest, Prince Jian (…is that his name? correct me if I’m wrong.) a very unreal chara
Angela (:
This is the second book I have read by Cameron Dokey. Although I liked this book better than Golden, I had problems with it. Not big problems, but problems are problems.

First, the character’s name. After Mulan disguises herself as a boy, she calls herself Gong-shi, meaning Bow-and-Arrow. I don’t know where the author got the name from, but it should be Gong-jian. (view spoiler) Which is sort of weird
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Mulan's mother died in childbirth, leaving her father heart-broken. He can't bring himself to come home from the battlefield and visit the child who cost his beloved wife her life. When he finally does return home after the emperor dismisses him, he finds Mulan a young teen who very much has a mind of her own. She is a brilliant, talented girl. Her best friend Li Po teaches her to read and write and shoot a bow and arrow. Her caretaker teaches her embroidery. Of course there are bumps along the ...more
I read The Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey back in April for the Dewey Readathon. This young adult book retells the ballad of Mulan. It’s a bit more in-depth than the Disney film — but lacking the awesome songs (and yes I totally have Be A Man on my iPod).

Set in Imperial China, Mulan is tough as nails. She can heft a sword, run through mud without freaking out, and isn’t very girly. So, she’s chilling out in the woods behind her house with her BFF, Li Po – who taught her literacy and archery becaus
Okay, so I'm on a Cameron Dokey kick right now. Probably because I need to escape into a bit of fairy tale fantasy and probably because they're a quick read so I can handle it time wise. I enjoyed this retelling of Mulan. It was a nice change of pace to get away from all the European based fairy tales and read something set in China. It makes you want to be brave and go out riding your horse while wielding your bow and arrow. I wish there had been a little more development between her and her lo ...more
Miss Clark
Apr 28, 2009 Miss Clark rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves fairytales
I quite enjoyed this installment in the "Once Upon A Time" series, even though Mulan's story is not actually a fairytale. I have never read the original legend of Mulan, so my only knowledge of the story comes from many viewings of Disney's animated film version.

Many have complained about how much time is spent on the beginning of the book on Mulan's childhood, but I actually liked getting to really know Mulan before she goes off and does her heroic deed. Then again, the ending seemed incredib
Drew Graham
Young Hua Mulan has never met her parents. Her mother died giving birth to her only child, and her father left to war shortly after, too pained at the sight of the cause of his beloved wife's death (a daughter, no less) to remain. Raised by the same nurse who watched over her mother, Mulan wants nothing more than to be allowed to be herself and engage in her own interests -- not suffer through wearying weaving and endless embroidery, but learn to ride, shoot, read and write with her friend Li Po ...more
My favorite one so far! Loved it, stayed up late to finish it. I loved this part in chapter 3 "All of us hold something unexpected deep within ourselves. Something even we may not suspect or recognize. While our heart's rhythm may seem steady, so steady that we take it for granted, this does not mean the heart is not also full of wonders and surprises. That it beats in the first place may be the most surprisingly wonderful thing of all."
I really enjoy reading fairytale-retellings or books that bring up some mythology. Recently I've had a bit of a China-obsession so naturally I had to watch Disney's Mulan.. well, just because.
After finishing it I couldn't help thinking that maybe there is an amazing book that brings up Mulan out there somewhere, so I searched Goodreads. And I found this. And I really liked it, but something was missing. I felt that this was a bit too much fairytale. I want the mythological fairytale-retelling a
Belle Forcible
In my life, before there was Katniss, before there was Lisbeth, there was Mulan (my childhood dreams were full of her. Thanks to Disney, of course). And she's still here. Always.

This is short. Really. But I couldn't find my most favorite tale served in any other way but with simplicity. This is all a light and fun read. Perfect after a day's hell of work.
3 1/2 stars really. It was an interesting story, I liked the development of the family relationships, but I felt like the romance was glossed over. Oh, sure, their hearts beat as one and now they are suddenly in love...
With a strong and noble main character, this short story relates the tale of Mulan. Many secrets are related throughout the course of the book, and the reader truly sympathizes with the characters' plights and joys.
Okay, can I PLEASE get a balanced story here? I feel like Cameron Dokey poured out her heart and soul into creating this beautiful introduction to the story, and then the end just collapsed into a rushed glob of confusion. Really? THAT'S how Mulan became a hero? Honestly, the epic war scenes from the Disney movie were better than that. And considering her true love thought she was a boy the whole time, I feel like that relationship needed a bit more development. I just didn't BELIEVE that they l ...more
Theodosia of the Fathomless Hall
2.5 Stars. This was the second installment in the Once Upon A Time series (the other in that capacity The World Above) and both by Cameron Dokey, who writing I like.
In total it's a fine book, I've not read or watched in other interpretations of Mulan, but from what I've seen it seems like it does justice. . . I wouldn't be that authority though!

My biggest and only gripe was this: DID MULAN HAVE TO END UP WITH JIAN FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE? It's supposedly set in the Sui Dynasty of China, if you're jud
I love the story of Mulan...both the original ballad and the Disney movie. I am always surprised that there aren't more novelizations or retellings of the legend, to me it seems rich with possibility....a historical background, adventure, political turmoil, an absolute BAMF as a main character. So being one of the only novels I've found expanding upon the story that was not stamped with a Disney logo, I was SUPER excited. As someone whose always loved retelling of fairytales I've also always wan ...more
Not the most elaborate or exciting among retellings but very nice writing and rhythm. A more conventional retelling, I believe.
Sarah Ball
As much as I've raved about Dokey, a number of her books have lately let me down. Unfortunately, Wild Orchid falls into the let down category. I'm not overly familiar with the Mulan tale, but as far as I can tell Dokey did not add a new twist on the story. She fleshed out the characters and gave them sympathetic backstories and motivations, but the basic plot is largely unchanged (contrast this with her retelling of Sleeping Beauty, which was an excellent example of adding a completely new twist ...more
Pato Myers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
OH NO!!!!!

Mulan is my favorite princess EVER, so I was super excited to read this book. But it wasn't cracked up to what I thought it'd be.

The things I loved
1. The Chinese culture depicted in the story, all the names and most of the culture was accurate. Ooh! And the way it explains the way she was born in the year of the monkey, and what traits that gave her, the month of the dog, and the minute of the tiger. Very interesting stuff
2. Mulan's character. She's adventurous, brave, tomboyish, and e
It's strange - I really liked this book. Way more than I should have. It's so short that I started it as I was getting ready for bed & had finished it by the time I wanted to sleep a few hours later. Also, all the best parts of the story (or what should be the best parts anyways) happen in the second half. That's right, the entire first half is devoted to her life at home before all the heroic stuff happens. Plus, she falls in love pretty much instantaneously, which is a huge pet peeve of mi ...more
Hannah G.
- As usual, the author, Cameron Dokey, wrote very well. The book was simple yet spellbinding. That's a big reason I love reading her books. They're the type that can really take me away to different places and times, as all books should.
- I really like Mulan. I already liked her in the Disney adaptation of the movie, and I liked her even better in this book. :)
- The book teaches a few lessons and good morals too.

- I didn't like how the emperor of China was called the "Son of Heaven." I
Lady Knight
This was a great addition to the series, and quite honestly is my favorite thus far. It retells the Ballad of Mulan (and does a much better job than the Disney movie... no offense meant to anyone, I still like the movie) and fleshes it out so that Mulan's motives make absolute sense, and so that her world is believable. My only bone to pick is that after all the time spent setting up the story and Mulan's personality, she suddenly falls in love after only knowing them for maybe a week. While not ...more
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Sinopsis en Español 1 1 1 hour, 41 min ago  
¿Por qué no una traducción al Español? 1 1 Oct 22, 2014 01:00PM  
Translation to Spanish, why not? 1 1 Jul 11, 2014 09:48AM  
What is the best book in the Once Upon a Time Collection? 13 40 Jun 14, 2014 04:39PM  
  • The Diamond Secret (Once Upon a Time Fairytales)
  • Scarlet Moon (Once Upon a Time Fairytales)
  • The Rose Bride: A Retelling of "The White Bride and the Black Bride" (Once Upon a Time Fairytales)
  • Snow: A Retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Once Upon A Time)
  • The Swan Maiden
  • Thornspell
  • Cloaked in Red
  • Princess of the Silver Woods (Princess, #3)
  • The Thirteenth Princess
  • Cinderella: Ninja Warrior (Twisted Tales, #1)
  • Out of the Wild (Into the Wild, #2)
  • Cinderella (Faerie Tale Collection, #4)
Cameron Dokey is an American author living in Seattle, Washington. She has a collection of over 50 old sci-fi and horror films. Cameron was born in the Central Valley of California. Cameron grew up reading classical literature and mythology, perhaps due to her father, Richard, being a teacher of Philosophy, Creative Writing, and Western Literature.

Cameron has one husband and three cats, and is th
More about Cameron Dokey...
The Storyteller's Daughter (Once Upon a Time Fairytales) Before Midnight: A Retelling of "Cinderella" (Once Upon a Time Fairytales) Beauty Sleep: A Retelling of "Sleeping Beauty" (Once Upon a Time Fairytales) Golden (Once Upon A Time Fairytales) Belle: A Retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" (Once Upon a Time Fairytales)

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“I had to cease to mourn what could never be and make the most of what was possible. And I would begin doing that by trying to mend the hurts of the past.” 101 likes
“I have not led an ordinary life, nor a life that would suit everyone. I took great risks, but because I did, I also earned great reward. I found the way to show my true face freely, without fear. Because of this, I found true love.” 30 likes
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