Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Review is In :: In the Forbidden City and This is the Greatest Place!

Earlier this month, my postman delivered a handful of beautifully crafted children’s books for me to review and share with my readers. In addition to the RoamingReindeer, I also received This is the Greatest Place! written by Brian Tse, and In the Forbidden City by Chiu Kwong-chiu.  

Both This is the Greatest Place! and In the Forbidden City are about Chinese culture and are a part of a new series to explore Ancient China put together by the China Institute in America, the oldest American organization devoted exclusively to China. Through the four book series, children will learn about the Forbidden City and its impact on the people who lived there.

In the Forbidden City takes readers (ages 9+) on an adventure throughout the monumental palace’s walls. Accompanied by a mischievous cat, readers will encounter the people who have walked through the Forbidden City’s halls and gardens, including emperors, empresses, and rebel leaders. In addition, they will hear exciting tales about the power struggles within the palace and the intrigues of everyday life.

Similar in style to David Macaulay’s illustrated books (Castle, City, Cathedral), this book is not only fantastically illustrated with highly detailed line drawings of its buildings, gardens and courtyards, it also includes a plastic magnifying glass for inspecting drawing detail and allows for the characters to come to life. The book includes numerous foldout spreads to capture the interest of the reader.

In addition to being a visually grabbing book, it is filled with historical information about the Ming and Qing dynasties. My older son’s favorite section of the book was the timeline of Emperors which included an anecdote about each one.

In contrast to the black and white line drawings of In the Forbidden City, the colorful and playful illustrations in This is the Greatest Place! (The Forbidden City and the World of Small Animals) will have your younger readers (ages 5-9) falling in love with such a uniquely designed book. Full of vibrant colors, lift flaps, foldouts, and adorable animals, this book grabbed the attention of my younger son who thoroughly enjoyed learning about how nature supplies us with the wonders that enrich our lives.

In addition, this book teaches children about Chinese architecture and how nature’s influence can be seen around us, as well as how people and animals can live together in harmony.

Both books would make excellent companions to a lesson on ancient Chinese culture, the Forbidden City or even architecture. This link provides educators with more resources on teaching about the Forbidden City.  Both of my children enjoyed these stories and I will keep an eye out for the next two books in the We all Live in the Forbidden City series. Along with the books, here is a website to help explore the Forbidden City.

The creator of In the Forbidden City, Chiu Kwong-chiu, is an artist, designer, and professor who explores Chinese traditional visual arts along with adopting groundbreaking ways to interpret and promote Chines art and culture. 

The creators of This is the Greatest Place!, Brian Tse and Alice Mak, are internationally renowned children’s book artists. They are well known for their heart-warming and educational stories for children.  

{Disclaimer: PR by the Book provided me with review copies at no cost.}

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