Over the next few weeks I’m going to delve into some Chinese culture with you. I visited China for a few days during a vacation while I was living in Japan. One of my dreams had always been to visit the Great Wall of China. So I made this dream come true. Now I’m sharing memories and history with my children.
Tuttle Publishing has helped me bring the history of this wonder to my children when they sent us Ming’s Adventure on China’s Great Wall: A Story in English and Chinese. I love the dual language text in this book; it means that it can appeal to a wider audience, as well as exposing children to the characters of a different language.
This is a hard-cover picture book written and illustrated by Li Jian. The illustrations look like they would be at home on a scroll. The foreground of the pictures are all very clear and detailed, while the backgrounds of the Chinese mountains and the snaking Great Wall are more like a water-colour pictures with sweeping lines, pastel colours and less detail. This style means that the pages are filled with colour, but the eye is drawn to the important part of the picture.
The story is about young Ming. Today is a special day for him as his father is taking him to visit the China’s Great Wall outside of Beijing. The pair become separated at the wall and Ming is magically transported back through time and has his own guide, the General, to show him important points in time for the Great Wall.
“Based on the length of the Great Wall in the Ming Dynasty, it was estimated that the amount of stone and brickwork in its construction is more than enough to build a road that is 10 meters wide and 35 centimeters thick around the equator twice.”
Now that’s some wall! Throughout the book children will learn bits of information like this, woven in amongst the General’s guide through time to beacon towers, China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang’s inspection of the wall, and why the wall was constructed.
At the end of the book the General disappears and Ming is again reunited with his father at the Badaling section of the Great Wall.
Of course, I had to reminisce and show Tristan and Kallista some of the photos I had taken while doing a 10km hike along the Great Wall in mid-March. The area I visited was in its ‘natural’ state and quite dangerous at places. I didn’t want to visit the ‘Disneyfied’ area with cafés, lifts, and all of the usual tourist trappings. And I don’t regret my decision. It was amazing!
I have so many fond memories of this day, and perhaps I share some of them with you another time….
Tristan and Kallista got into ‘character’ during one reading of this book and sat out by the sandbox where Tristan read to his little sister.
When he was done, Kallista proceeded to be inspired and built her own ‘Great Wall’ in the sandbox. Of course, she had more modern equipment than the original builders had, but let’s not split hairs over this.
Tristan moved over and re-read the book to himself, taking his time looking at the illustrations as he went.
I love the way this story weaves fictional adventure and historical and cultural facts together. Kids are interested in the adventure and parents and teachers will be pleased that they’ll also be learning about history at the same time. Include the beautiful illustrations, and it’s a great book for your collection!
If you’re interested in purchasing this book or other Chinese books by Tuttle Publishing, here are some Amazon links (affiliate) for you: