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Character Connection: Li Po

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wild Orchid
I surprised myself with my choice this week.

I wasn't crazy about Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "The Ballad of Mulan" by Cameron Dokey. There was nothing wrong with it; it was just a little too faithful to the Disney movie for my taste. But there is one character from the book who jumped out at me as I browsed my shelves on GoodReads, trying to choose someone to write about this week.

That's Mulan's best friend, Li Po. He is the boy next door. And just like the girl next door, he's a little overlooked. He is one of the pillars of Mulan's world. As much as she appreciates him, I'm not sure that she appreciates him fully.

The most striking thing about Li Po when I stopped to think about it is that he taught Mulan everything he knew. This is imperial China. I do believe that girl-babies were left out to die sometimes in this culture, because who wants to feed a useless girl? But Li Po not only befriended her--the wild, tomboyish neighbor girl--but he taught her. Everything. Reading, writing, shooting a bow. If he learned something, he passed it right on to her. Who could ask for a better friend than that? Her world was tightly constricted by the culture she was born in. He gave her as much of it back as he possibly could.

When Mulan rides off to war in disguise to take her father's place, Li Po, who is already at the camp, realizes who she is pretty quickly. How his heart must have raced when he recognized the young "boy" come to fight. He could have kept her safe by betraying her right then and there. But he knows the value of loyalty and of family. He realizes that Mulan is helping her father in the only way she can. He honors her family ties and her wishes and keeps silent. He also respects her talents with a bow and her intelligence. She can get through this. He sets out to help her without hindering her. What a true friend she found in Li Po.

Who did you connect with this week? Link your post on Mr. Linky, then be sure to go check out the other Character Connections!

Character Connection
Who do ya love?

Or love to hate?

You know you've got a lot to say about some larger-than-life characters, and this is the place to say it. Write a straightforward post. Draw a picture. Vlog, write poetry, write fiction, cast the role, be as creative as you want!

Be sure to post the book's title and author, and be very careful not to give away spoilers while talking about how much you love your characters.

Mr. Linky will be posted here on The Introverted Reader every Thursday.

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.


  1. I haven't read this one. I get a little sick of fairytale retellings but this Li Po sounds absolutely great! For a guy back then in that culture to do all that...yeah, awesome!

  2. I haven't even seen the Mulan Disney movie, so I can't relate to much of this!! I would like to read the book, though, and watch the movie of course!


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