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Six young folks bi-lingual books about China, all by Li Jian

by: Li Jian

New York NY: Better Link Press 2015, $16.95, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-1-6022-990-9

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2015 Issue: 22(4) page(s): 26

These pamphlet-style volumes are about places to visit and things to know about China. One is about the life of a great Chinese explorer who lived from 1371 to 1433 and made seven major expeditions to China pursuing a dream that began in his childhood. He developed sailing skills and was inspired by a vibrant gift of a blue and white porcelain vase, his father and grandfather brought back for him from their trip to Mecca. The young man completes a dream of finding the material that produced the stunning blue color of this vase. Years later when selected by the Prince of Yan who had by then become a Chinese emperor, he does that after he was chosen to command a great sea-going vessels to many countries.

All these volumes are bi-lingual, and this one is one about a dream when he was a boy named Ma Wenhe at birth. he wants to replicate that cobalt blue color that had captivated him in his youth. Years later, he does find, then does replicate it in China when he became an admiral. He was working for this emperor leading the world's largest fleet and crew. He made seven voyages over twenty-eight years, reaches the east coast of Africa, the Indian Ocean, and West Asia. Earlier he had studied navigation, mastered using a compass, and much more,enabling him to do this. Also, his early honesty was rewarded by this Prince of Yan who became a Chinese emperor having returned his bag of gold coins. As an admiral in charge of a fleet of sixty-three ships and more than twenty-seven thousand crew, he does lead them to Vietnam, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, and other places. On one of these trips,he finds that cobalt blue used to make that blue porcelain vase and does bring it back to China. Later, at age sixty-two,he dies in Calcutta, India. This was on his last voyage for this Chinese Emperor.

This author writes other children's books including:

Ming’s Adventure with the Terra Cotta Army (ISBN 978-1-60220-983-1). This one discusses Ming meeting a general from Xian named Qin Shihuang with whom he plays hide and seek. he gets to see th clay army of infantrymen, cavalrymen, archers, farmers, dancers, and others in his underground palace in Xian.

Ming’s Adventure in the Forbidden City (ISBN 978-1-60220-985-5) about the home of Chinese emperors from the 14th century to 1911, Ming gets to join this emperor when the ruler was a boy and learns about what his day was like. He also gets to see his palace, ride on a bronze dragon, and see past and the present come together.

Ming’s Adventure on China’s Great Wall (ISBN 978-1-60220-987-9) is about Ming going through layers of Chinese history with a general and the emperor who built The Great Wall. He learns of this wall's significance, the enemies that stormed it, huge markets selling food for its people on or near it, and much more.

Ming’s Adventure with Confucius in Qufu (ISBN 978-1-6022–989-3> in this book, brings Ming to the Pavilion and the Kong Mansion in Qufu, the city where Confucius lived. He sees the game of 'Go' there, and learns about the ,'Six Arts.' He also meets with Confucius and his disciples, and learns why Confucian philosophies are still important in China.

In another volume called: Sheep Beauty (ISBN 978-1-60220-988-6) this is a book about the Village of 'Sheep Horn; where he goes on a timeless adventure about a doctor and an injured sheep. This story stresses kindness, courage, and sacrifice about a monster who demands every family turn over one child or he will eat them.

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