Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer Reading 2016: If You Were Me and Lived in Ancient China


Carole just keeps expanding on her ideas for her "If You Were Me"series - both in modern countries around the world, and now also in historical periods. The book on Ancient China covers the time of the Han Dynasty, almost 2,000 years ago. Young readers will enjoy hearing tidbits about the Chinese zodiac and agreeing that they would not want to be born in the Year of the Rat. Other things like the difference in the diets of people from different regions will probably surprise them. In our time, there is usually a McDonald's to be found, no matter where you travel. The idea that people only consumed the items that were available in their immediate area will probably seem very limited. Another idea that will generate some discussion is that of having the same job as their parents and grandparents and not really getting any choice in the matter. 

While the text shares information about aspects of life during the time of Han Dynasty, the illustrations show the clothing, the houses, and other visual details of the period. Children will probably remark on the way the corners of the roofs curl up or the fact that no one is wearing shoes in the indoor scenes. Points like rich boys having a private tutor, or the public school having over 30,000 students will be a surprise. There are biographical sketches of famous people from the period in the back matter, such as Cai Lun, Sun Tzu, and Genghis Khan. There is also a lengthy glossary of terms such as calligraphy, caravan, and dynasty. This book is sure to be a conversation starter and may begin some youngster's love affair with history as he or she becomes fascinated with all the differences between life then and now.

I received a copy from the author for review purposes.

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