Review and Giveaway: What Was it Like, Mr. Emperor?

Bowls of Happiness
Bowls of Happiness

I was recently sent two books published by the China Institute to review, Bowls of Happiness and What was it Like, Mr. Emperor?  When I was in college I took a few Asian history classes and a Chinese calligraphy class and have been interested in Asian studies ever since.  I was interested in see what the books were like and what my kids would think.

Bowls of Happiness ($10.91 at Amazon) features Piggy, a little girl whose mother is a potter.  Piggy’s mom makes her a ceramic bowl and as they try to decide how to decorate it Piggy enters the world of traditional Chinese pottery motifs.  The second half of the book is more academic in tone and contains more detailed information about pottery designs.

Excerpt from "Bowls of Happiness"
Page from “Bowls of Happiness”

The book is lovely with a letterpressed cover, cute illustrations, and colorful photos of real Chinese bowls.  It’s a pleasing way to learn about different Chinese pottery motifs.  At the same time, I’m not quite sure who’s the target audience for this book.  While the story about Piggy may hold the attention of preschoolers, the more academic second-half is more for teenagers and adults.  While it’s a charming little book, I can’t see myself purchasing it on my own.

"What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor?"
“What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor?”

I really enjoyed, What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? ($8.90 at Amazon) It is an installment in the “We All Live in the Forbidden City” series by the China Institute in America.

What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? is a well-illustrated, info-packed look at the everyday lives of Chinese emperors.  The illustrations are done in a kid-friendly cartoon style.  The book covers a lot of material in an accessible way: notable emperors, how the emperor was chosen, how he was educated, what type of food he eat, who lived in the palace with him, etc… I was so entertained that I sat down and read the book straight through.

Page from "What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor?"
Page from “What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor?”

What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? is recommended for ages 8 and up and I think that’s appropriate.  E loves catalogs of information (Pokemon, anyone?) and he has enjoyed learning interesting facts from the book. Younger kids will enjoy the illustrations and diagrams while older kids can more fully absorb the text information.

I would recommend the book if your child is interested in China.  It seems like a lot of kids I know are studying Chinese and I can see this book coming in very handy for school reports 🙂  It’s a good one to have in your library.

The publisher has kindly offered to send one reader (in the U.S.) a copy of What Was It like, Mr. Emperor?

To enter, leave a comment on this post by midnight (Mountain Time) on Saturday, March 19, 2016.

A winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email.  Good luck!

10 thoughts on “Review and Giveaway: What Was it Like, Mr. Emperor?”

  1. Very cool moonlighting gig! I’m definitely interested in more books like these: even though our child will be under 3 when we adopt them, we will be exposing them to books of varying difficulty, as well as including their birth country in their narrative.

  2. Really cute pictures. We talk about a lot princess and princesses that don’t exist. But these emperors actually existed so it will be intriguing for kids to read and study.

  3. Those look about the right age for my niblings — though I’d enjoy the pottery motifs one for myself. They both sound interesting.

  4. The older two kiddos took a pottery class last summer, my little pre teen would find the Chinese pottery designs really fascinating. So would I! You can never have enough books that are useful for school reports

  5. My nieces father often goes to China on business, so I think they would really enjoy this book to read with their dad.

  6. Love the illustrations, that I saw, and looked interesting! Looks like something I would love to read with my big girls.

  7. I love both these books…and a give away, haha! The illustrations are great. So fun you get to be a reviewer.

  8. These are really charming books! Anyone…children and adults alike can learn some fun and interesting things about Chinese art and culture. I love pottery, so I can see myself enjoying “Bowls of Happiness”. Reading about the lives of Chinese emperors would be entertaining too. I can see both myself and my 6 year old son reading and enjoying these books together.

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