Posts tagged ‘China’

#MEET THE AUTHOR

I am starting a new feature on my blog. Rather than simply reading and reviewing family-friendly books for my audience, I will be taking a peek behind the scenes at the writer. After all, we all want to know the mysterious person behind the curtain. So without delay, let me introduce you to the talented Eugenia Chu, who has a brand new release tomorrow, September 3.


About the Author:

Eugenia Chu is an attorney, turned stay-at-home mom, turned writer. She lives on a magical beach in Miami with her husband and son, Brandon, who is the inspiration for her stories. She enjoys reading, writing, traveling, yoga and drinking too much coffee. She has been a presenter at numerous schools, libraries and book festivals.

When Brandon was very little, the author couldn’t find children’s storybooks to read to him which touched upon Chinese culture and which included some Chinese (Mandarin) words to teach and/or reinforce his Chinese vocabulary, so she started writing her own. Brandon Goes to Beijing (北京) is her second “Brandon” story and first children’s chapter book. 

Brandon Goes to Beijing (北京), a brand new chapter book by author, Eugenia Chu, launches on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2019!As a special bonus, the Kindle Ebook version will be FREE on Amazon that day, too!!! Please download this adorable book and if you like it, please leave a review to thank the author and her illustrator, Eliza Hsu Chen, for all their hard work!

In this story, Brandon and his cousins are on a trip to visit their grandparents in Beijing, China! While bonding with family, practicing Chinese, touring historic sites and feasting on local dishes, Brandon thinks he sees a tiny panda. However, every time he gets close, the panda disappears! Is Brandon imagining this small creature, or is it real? Will Brandon find out before he has to fly back home?

Brandon Goes to Beijing (北京) is a multicultural, multigenerational chapter book. This book includes some Mandarin Chinese (Simplified) with Pinyin pronunciation, adding layers for those learning or interested in the Chinese language and culture. Brandon Goes to Beijing (北京) follows Eugenia’s debut picture book, Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子)(a story about a boy and his grandma who bond while making Chinese dumplings, called jiǎo zi (餃子).

For more information about Eugenia or her books:

Website: http://eugeniachu.com

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/eugeniachu

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/eugeniachuauthor/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/eugeniachu8245/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/chuauthor

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SOME IDEAS TO CHEW ON……

Ping Poo, the Astronomer: A strange discovery

Written by Pierre Moessinger

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Interesting essay of nine pages which presents a discussion of discoveries by Ping Poo, an ancient Chinese astronomer who lived during the Zhou Dynasty in China around 550 A.D. Ping Poo believed that stars held on to the sky like flies on a ceiling. His colleague Li Fu argued that they hung from the sky with strings. One day Ping Poo sees a red glow in his white jade ball. Following a dream, Ping is determined to journey to Mount Yugo to investigate. His friend Li decides to accompany him, When Ping disappears, some peers believe he was pursued by a dragon and drowned in the Yellow River; others theorized that he stole the elixir of immortality and fled to the moon in an effort to escape the anger of the gods. As time passed the two scholars were forgotten. Years later in 1830, two children Lou and Wang discover a linen bundle of paper inscribed with calligraphy. They turn it over to their father, a professor of ancient Chinese. Turns out to be the journals of Ping Poo in which he set forth the hypothesis that the earth is a sphere turning around on its own axis, the first astronomer to do so. At the end of the essay, Moessinger offers some questions for his readers to ponder and answer. As a footnote, the author briefly explains Piaget’s ideas and suggests this book as an introduction to philosophy for children.

Recommended for readers in the eight to thirteen age range, this book is an interesting way to introduce philosophical thought to middle grade children. While the historical backstory is certainly worthwhile, the audience for this book is geared toward the child who likes to apply critical thinking skills to her reading. Youngsters who are looking for a quick read will probably not find this book appealing. Best suited for readers in the ten and up age range.

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TRUE SPIRIT OF MOTHERHOOD

The Bridge

Written by Kay Bratt

TheBridge,pic

It’s Mother’s Day here in the United States. Whether you celebrate the holiday today or on another day on the calendar, this book expresses the true nature of motherhood.

The book is a short story of approximately seventy pages that will grip you on many levels. Ms. Bratt has spent five years in China and bases her writing experiences on the time she spent there and the love she acquired for the country’s people. She quickly and deftly paints the scene in Suzhou, China, 2010, portraying the old woman named Jing who is now dependent on the generosity of her son for her own survival. Jing is grateful to be able to care for her grandson and cook the meals in exchange for food and shelter over her head. She collects old sweaters and uses scraps of wool to make scarves so that she can save enough money to prepare for her unmarried daughter Qian’s annual trip home for the New Year holidays.

The reader soon senses her generosity of spirit and kindness. Jing notices a young five year old boy sitting on the bridge near her window and watches with sadness as his mother does not return for him. Jing takes him in for the night and realizes that he is blind. She resolves to take him by foot to the orphanage, where she is a familiar character. The reader learns that she has done this many times before. Feeling particularly sad about the vulnerability and susceptibility of this disabled five year old named Fei Fei, Jing is unable to forget him. When she makes a return trip to the orphanage, she finds that he has been neglected. The director agrees to place Fei Fei in her care as a foster parent for three years. Jing doubts she will be able to succeed in taking care of him until he is old enough to be trained properly in a school for blind children, but she knows his survival is dependent upon her. When Jing’s daughter Qian arrives for the holidays, circumstances take another dramatic turn.

The reader learns how the concept of motherhood can change and transform us. Will Fei Fei face a life of misery or will the struggling old woman named Jing somehow succeed in rehabilitating this child who, like many other Chinese children, has been abandoned on the “Lucky Bridge?” I recommend this book to children age eight and up. The story is based on a character that the author met in China. All the characters are well developed; the author explores some very important societal issues as well as the culture of China. This book is a good multicultural addition to a classroom library and introduces children living in the Western hemisphere to Asian traditions.

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MUCH MORE THAN A SWIMMING GAME

HISTORY FOR KIDS:AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY OF MARCO POLO

Written by Charles River Editors

Bio of Marco Polo,pic

Many children who live in the 21st century like to play a game in the pool called Marco Polo. The man who lived from 1254-1324 certainly knew a lot about water because he was born and raised in Venice. His father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo traveled world-wide as successful merchants. It appears that Marco did not even meet his father until he was a teenager because due to his father’s long absences from home. When Niccolo returned to Venice in 1270, he did not know that his wife had died nor that she had bore a son. Marco accompanied Niccolo when he left on the next business trip in 1272. The journey would take them to Jerusalem, Persia, Armenia, Turkey and the Mongolian Empire where Marco met Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan.

Few Europeans could imagine the palace of Kublai Khan who dressed in robes of silk and gold and lived in a building so large that 40,000 people could dine at the same time. Marco and he became good friends. Marco became an official royal messenger and tax collector for the Emperor traveling to Indonesia, India and Africa. He learned how to use native weapons like the bow and arrow, discovered how coal could be used for fuel, and used their paper currency for trade. Polo became fluent in the Mongolian language. His journals describe exotic animals like the rhinoceros, peacock and rhinoceros unknown to the Western world.

The Emperor was generous to his people, but eventually a war with Japan caused unrest. Polo could not leave without the Emperor’s permission. When he finally returned to Venice at age 38,  they were at war with Genoa. Polo was imprisoned. There he met another prisoner named Rustichello who encouraged him to record his world -wide journeys. By the time he got out of prison, Polo had inherited his father and uncle’s fortunes. Europe was about to enter the age of exploration. Sailors and cartographers based their calculations on his journals. Christopher Columbus decided to sail west to get to China discovering a new continent in the process.

As you see, this concise biography is not written simply to explain one life but to show the influence and future consequences of his fascinating life. The editors say that the book is aimed at the 7-10 age group and I feel that they are on target. The illustrations help to visualize the textual descriptions and the maps give a flavor of the knowledge of the period. I believe that most of the information is accurate though there is a dearth of written documentation. Both children and adults can use this book as an introduction to a study of religions, trade and culture of regions not well known to the Western world in the thirteenth century. Children may have a better understanding of just what they mean when they say, “Marco….Polo” in the pool.

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THE FIRST SUPERPOWER

The Great Voyages of Zheng He

Written and illustrated by Demi

TheGreatVoyagesofZhengMapic

 

Ma Ze was born in 1371. Ma was born into a Muslim family whose ancestors came from Persia and fought with the Mongols and Genghis Khan. Ma’s father was  a general who told his son of his pilgrimage to Mecca and his military battles. But he was killed in battle when Ma was only ten so Ma was taken to be raised in the imperial palace. Ma was a brilliant scholar who appeared to be skilled at everything he tried to do. Like his father, Ma enjoyed adventure, but he especially loved the sea. When Prince Zhu Di became emperor in 1402, he spread his empire and the power of the Ming Dynasty. He expanded the borders of the Forbidden City of Beijing and strengthened the Great Wall against his enemies. He built a large army and made Ma, who was now known as Zheng Ma,  Admiral of the Navy. One year later Ma had built 525 ships, ten times the number of ships that Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama possessed, and a navy consisting of more than 30,000 sailors.

Zheng Ma set sail with a new more accurate compass, better maps and a good knowledge of astronomy. He journeyed south to Java and Sumatra reaching out to the people with a policy of peace and religious tolerance. Ma destroyed the Cantonese pirate fleet let by Chen Zuyi which resulted in free trade. Eventually thirty foreign  states would  pay tribute and acknowledge the supremacy of China. Emperor Zhu was so pleased that he ordered another voyage in 1407. When Ma found civil war between the Muslims and Buddhists, he proclaimed religious freedom for all. This was unheard of in the time of the Inquisition and Crusades. Subsequent voyages added precious metals, porcelain and more exotic animals to China as a result of forays into the Arabian peninsula and Africa. In 1417 there were so many exotic animals that the emperor built the first zoo to house them all. He was especially fond of his pet giraffe. By 1421 China could rightly be called the first world superpower. Unfortunately, later near the end of that year, lightning struck three imperial buildings creating a conflagration that killed thousands of people. Then a drought caused a grain shortage. When Zhu Gaozhi ascended the throne, he retreated within his borders and ended outside exploration. Ma was relieved of his duties, the ships rotted, and the navy disbanded.

Later in 1425 Zhu Zhangji came into power. He wanted to reestablish trade. In 1431 Ma was again put in charge of the fleet. This was the largest of all voyages. Ma made it a successful peacekeeping mission, but he died suddenly at the age of 62. No man could replace the knowledge and vision of Zheng Ma.  He envisioned a world of peace, intellectual growth, and religious tolerance in a time of war, ignorance and religious strife.

The book is beautifully illustrated by the award winning artist Demi. Adults and children eight and over will appreciate the adventure story and learning about a part of Chinese history and culture that is not widely known. This is a well written, informative and fascinating book for parents and teachers to add to their collection.

 

PINT SIZED PEACEMAKERS

Peace in My World

By: Syeda Mleeha Shah

Peaceinmyworldpic

This book is dedicated to all displaced children in refugee and survival camps waiting for peace. The author pays tribute to every child for making our world beautiful by being a part of it.

Multicultural children are dressed in native costumes and placed in different scenarios. They are seen in farm scenes with barns, roosters and sunflowers, playing on the ice with penguins and singing in the rain while the wind chimes blow. The images coincide with symbols of peace like the dove and moods of tranquility like a little girl sitting on the grass while fish swim in the pond beside her. In the valleys and mountains trees stand tall, the sun shines brightly, and birds fly over the rainbow.

The text is written in simple verse. The same two lines are repeated on the pages. “This is a place where I want to go. I am in peace from head to toe.” A simple message that adults find  so difficult to accept. In the second part of the book Shah spells out the word  PEACE  assigning special significance to each letter.

 

P stands for people of the world

E stands for empathy they feel for one another

A stands for accepting others differences

C stands for cooperating and working in harmony

E  stands for the extra mile needed to reach out to those in need

 

In the final part of the book, the author selects five countries from various parts of the world: Pakistan, Egypt, America, China and Ethiopia. For each of these she presents the flag, names the capitol, its language and the word for peace. There is a rather abrupt shift from the ideal world to the real world. My only criticism is that no reason is given for choosing these five countries and there is no tie in to the rest of the story. Nevertheless, this book is truly worthwhile for teaching even very young children the value of using diversity as a unifying force and letting our strengths bind us together rather than tear us apart.

 

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