Monday, October 13, 2014

Book reviews: This is the Greatest Place! and In the Forbidden City

*Disclosure: I received copies of these books from the publisher to review for myself. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.

My kids are biracial- my husband is Chinese and I am Caucasian.  Of course, we live in the United States, in a predominantly Caucasian neighborhood.  So teaching them about my side of the family and our customs and history is not difficult. But they are more removed from their Chinese heritage, even though they are the first generation to be born in North America.  Teaching the kids about the amazing history and culture that they have from their Chinese family is really important to us, and I love it when something comes into our life that can teach them in a way that also really captures their imagination.  Two books did that for us last week- they are both from Tuttle Publishing and they are called This is the Greatest Place! and In the Forbidden City. Here's a bit about both, from the publisher's website:

Serving as the seat of imperial power for six centuries, the Forbidden City is one of China's most famous and enigmatic landmarks. Accompanied by a mischievous cat, readers will tour this colossal architectural structure, discovering the secrets hidden inside the palace walls. They will encounter the people who have walked through its halls and gardens, including emperors, empresses, and rebel leaders, and hear exciting tales about the power struggles and intrigues of everyday life.

This large format book conveys the grandeur of the Forbidden City through highly detailed line drawings of its buildings, gardens, and courtyards with numerous fold-out spreads. Each page is populated by a large variety of characters and peppered with entertaining anecdotes. Every book includes a plastic magnifying glass for looking at the drawings more closely.

Rabbit is eating breakfast with his friends Baby Squirrel, Young Porcupine, and Little Brother Panda when an unexpected visitor arrives. He is a master builder, searching for inspiration to design a great palace for the Emperor of China. Together, Uncle Builder and the little animals explore how nature supplies us with the wonders that enrich our lives.

Created by internationally renowned children's book artists Brian Tse and Alice Mak, this book teaches children about Chinese architecture, how nature's influence can be seen around us, and how people and animals can live together in harmony. The illustrations capture both the majesty of the natural world and the Forbidden City and are enhanced by interactive components for readers, including a gatefold spread and lift-flaps.

We all absolutely adore these books.  This is the Greatest Place! is a colorful book with adorable illustrations of baby animals that teaches about the Forbidden City in an entertaining way. It's a fantastic book for the younger crowd and a wonderful introduction to the basics of the Forbidden City. For older kids and adults, I cannot say enough good things about In the Forbidden City. My kids keep carrying it upstairs and I constantly find time on the couch with the magnifying glass (included in the book), looking at all the little details of the amazing illustrations that cover every single page.  Personally, I love the illustrations and all of the information included in the book. I've been learning a ton, and I've still got lots of the book to read! This book would be a wonderful gift for anyone interested in the Forbidden City or Chinese Imperial history. I highly recommend both!