The first two titles, In the Forbidden City and This Is The Greatest Place! was reviewed on Chat With Vera (click titles for my reviews) launched last fall. School Library Journal praised In the Forbidden City for taking a “potentially complicated and confusing subject accessible and fascinating without oversimplifying it.” Kirkus Reviews called it “an impressive introduction to the Forbidden City.”
Two more installments continue the tradition of “We All Live in the Forbidden City” books: Bowls of Happiness (ages 4+) and What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? (ages 8+) celebrate the Forbidden City, and the study of architecture, imperial life, and Chinese cultural history in an attempt to make it accessible, appealing, and relevant to children, parents, and teachers.
Bowls of Happiness (ages 4-8)
Piggy's mom loves her so much that she has decided to make a special porcelain bowl just for her. As mom makes the bowl, Piggy enters the world being painted on its outside. There she meets and learns about the animals used on these Chinese artworks and the messages of happiness and good-fortune that they convey.
The next section shows various bowls and details the symbolism of the shape, color, and designs. This is interesting and educational. I venture to say we won't pick up a bowl in the future without contemplating what it represents.
I think that the cutoff age of 8 is a bit young as older students and adults will benefit from the educational aspects of this small book.
The story is sweet and cute and will make everyone look at the designs on bowls a bit differently in the future.
What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? (ages 8+)
Author Chiu Kwong-chiu is an artist, designer, and professor who explores Chinese traditional visual arts and adopts groundbreaking methods to interpret and promote Chinese art and culture.
My thoughts: Illustrated with strong colors and bold black lines, the history of China's emperors is show in brief descriptions of each emperor from about 4,000 BC until the demise of the line of emperors. Some were liked and some were not. Some were successful and some were not. They were considered to be endowed with power bestowed by Heaven and revered. They were the highest. I feel that from this treatise of emperors leadership in China there is very little take away information from which the reader will profit. There is satirical humor. Bubble captions. Mentions of eunuchs and concubines. And then of concubines racing to see who could provide an heir first.
As with other royals, the emperors had food tasters because they feared being poisoned. They were well taken care of by the court physicians. Some lived and ruled long and some very short periods. I learned that the original five emperors ruled over five areas (like chiefs) and then there was a unifying to become China.
There was some interesting information about palace life and the love of beauty. The concubines or women must have specific types of beauty, wear certain attire and jewelry, etc. Life in the palace for the emperor and all those who serve him was certainly different from life today - even "royal" life.
GIVEAWAY: A copy of each of these books will be sent to one winner here at Chat With Vera. Begins 12/13 & ENDS 12/28 @ 12:01 A.M. ETa Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of each book to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review. Giveaway is provided by publicist, PRbytheBook.