Monday, December 23, 2013

Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier

Mother/Son team Ying Chang and Vinson Compestine created a wonderful middle-grade, historical fiction novel: Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier.

Thirteen-year-old Ming lives in the small village of Red Star in Maoist China in the 1970s. His father, an archaeologist, is convinced that Emperor Qin’s tomb (and his Terra-Cotta army) is in the area.  But if Ming’s father doesn’t prove it soon, the town’s Political Officer will condemn him to the brutal labor camps. When a terra-cotta soldier is found, and begins speaking, Ming learns about Emperor Qin, the history of the terra-cotta army, and what life was like for the soldier.  As the two become friends, Ming experiences adventure like he'd never expected!  Will they be able to save Ming's father, and outwit the Political Officer?

This was an amazing weave of history and fiction.  Ying and Vinson created a fantastical adventure that will appeal to boys (and girls).  It's almost...Indiana Jones meets Aladdin (and the Goonies).  Caves, treasures, booby traps ("that's what I said!  booty traps!")  And throw in an ancient Chinese golem (or terra-cotta soldier).

The book is filled with Chinese history from both Ming and Shi (the soldier).  There are illustrations and pictures throughout with captions describing life in Maoist and Qin Dynasty China.  The setting descriptions are very detailed, making the reader feel as if he/she is actually there.  

The book also includes a glossary (with both Chinese characters and romanization for pronunciation), a brief history of both the Qin Dynasty and Maoist China, and a Q&A session with the authors.  Oh!  And there's a stir-fry recipe at the end!

I would highly recommend this for collections.  I believe it fits with common core standards...and is just an entertaining, educational, interesting book.  Great for bringing in young, male readers.

Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier is published by Amulet Books (a division of Abrams).  Digital ARC provided by NetGalley.
Release Date: 01.07.2014

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