We celebrated Chinese New Year early by reading two books that open a window into Chinese culture. Naomi, James and Sydney each share some thoughts on these books below.
Review by Naomi
Bowls of Happiness, written by Brian Tse, Illustrated by Alice Mak, and translated by Ben Wang.
Bowls of Happiness is published by China Institute, a company dedicated to supporting Chinese culture and Buddhist philosophy. It's about a little girl named Piggy. Her mommy made her a beautiful porcelain bowl. The book explains how Chinese porcelain bowls have a lot to do with the rituals and traditions of Chinese culture. I learned quite a lot, including the fact that yellow porcelain bowls were only for the emperors in the Forbidden City.
Bowls of Happiness was very enlightening and I loved to learn so much about Chinese culture and porcelain bowls.
One part of this book that I really liked was the illustrations. There were many illustrations and images of traditional porcelain vases and bowl patterns.
This is a vase that shows an imperial kiln. The imperial kiln is where the entire process of porcelain production is documented, from the selection of the materials, to the production of molds, to the application of glazes and polychrome, the firing process, and court officials approving and collecting the works.
Overall, I learned a lot from this book and would recommend it to anyone who would like to learn more about Chinese culture and porcelain bowls.
Review by James
What was it like Mr. Emperor? by Chiu Kwong-chiu was very enlightening. I learned a few things about China and the emperors. Such as, the last emperor of China was throned when he was only three! Then he only reigned for 3 years, and then got kicked out of the palace. He was also interested in western culture. It was a little slow, but there were a few interesting facts. The grammar mades no sense, but it was translated from Chinese, so you have to cut it some slack. Overall, If you are interested in Chinese culture this book is for you.
And Sydney wanted to add: "I noticed that a real authentic book from another culture can be very different from the books I'm used to. I learned that princes had to go to school from 5 am to 3pm and they only get 5 days off in the whole year. I also learned what an Eunuch is and that the color yellow is only for emperors. You should read this if you're interested in China!"
So, if you're looking to learn more about the forbidden city and China, definitely read these books. They're packed with information, bright lovely illustrations and they are written in a way that makes a different culture more real. What could be better than that?
Kirsti Call is a homeschooling mom of five. Her debut picture book, The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall, came out December 2013 with Character Publishing. Her family band, Calling Out, plays songs written by her children. She contributes to Writer's Rumpus, and Kids are Writers. She co-coordinates Reading for Research Month, a challenge for picture book writers who use mentor texts to improve their writing skills. If you visit her house, you’ll likely find her reading or writing. You can find out more about her at www.kirsticall.com
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