Thursday, March 27, 2014

Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine, Vinson Compestine

Ming's father is trying to find Emporer Qin's tomb and the terra-cotta soldiers that protect them.  He wants to protect them and save them for Chinese heritage.  The town's Political Officer just wants more goods to sell for a better life for his wife and himself; forget saving these historical artifacts.

Amulet Books sent me a copy of the ARC of this story for review (thank you).  It was published in January, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

This is a mix of fact and fantasy that reads well, with lots of action.  When some brothers bring in a broken terra-cotta statue, they want money.  Since his father is pleading his case in the city, Ming can't pay them.  What happens next is fantasy, but it's part of the magic of the story.  The head of statue starts talking to Ming.  He tells Ming if he can put him on his bed and get all his parts in the right place, he will be able to reunite his body.  It's true and it scares Ming!  

It takes a long time for his father to return and, in the meantime, the brothers are back and want the statue back.  They're overjoyed when they see it repaired and they take it to the Political Officer to get more money for it than they'd get from Ming's father.  When they all party too much and pass out, Shi sneaks back to Ming.  They need to work together to save the General's tomb and the other terra-cotta soldiers.

This is a bit like the first Indiana Jones tale.  Lots of dangers, lots of challenges, and folks fighting over the goods.  I enjoyed it.  Part of the reason I wanted to review it was that I saw the King Tut exhibit and he had terra-cotta soldiers, too.  They are very impressive in person.  They're not very big people but there are a lot of them and they stand there proudly.  Finding Emporer Qin's tomb must have been quite the experience.

You also get historical photos and even a recipe to full out this book experience.  This would really work well in class, especially with a few supplemental resource books with more photos.  Why not teach your students about the Qin Dynasty?

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