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!

Because I Said So! + Giveaway

My brother-in-law (and former Jeopardy! champ)  Ken Jennings has a new book out this week.  In Because I Said So!, Ken debunks and sometimes validates the warnings and wisdom parents pass on to their kids.  You know, things like don’t sit too close to the tv, wait a hour after eating to swim, don’t swallow gum it will make you sick, etc…

It turns out that (shocker!) many of the things our parents told us and that we probably tell our own kids are total bunk.  After you read it you will feel satisfyingly smug and enlightened whenever you overhear someone reciting a bit of kid-related folk lore you now know to be totally untrue.  You’ll also have an impressive arsenal of anecdotes you can fall back on when chatting at holiday parties.

Because I Said So! makes a nice gift.  Parents will enjoy it but it’s also the sort of book that most people will enjoy reading because they everyone was once a kid themselves. 

Leave a comment on this post by midnight MST Monday, December 10th to enter to win a copy of Because I Said So!  I’ll select a winner at random and get them a copy of the book.

This is cozy little blog so I think it’s safe to say that your odds of winning are pretty good 🙂 

Maphead Giveaway!

Thanks for the well-wishes, guys. Mimi is sleeping a bit better now, waking one or two times during the night instead of three. It’s still not optimal but I’ll take it. Last week I got worn out from the lack of sleep and trying to do too much (hello, simultaneous DIY kitchen and bath remodels!) and I ended up coming down with a nasty stomach bug. I was stuck in bed with a fever and crazy chills but after taking it easy over the weekend I’m feeling better.

I have some fun things to post this week, including A GIVEAWAY! N’s brother Ken is in town visiting on his way to a speaking thing and he is graciously offering a signed copy of his new book Maphead.

I’ve read it and it’s a fun, smart read that is being well-received. (Watch for the New York Times review later this week!) If you win Ken will sign the book and he can make it out to you or whomever you’d like if you want to give it as a gift.

To enter, leave a comment on this post (be sure to include your email or a link so I can find you if you win) before midnight (MST) this Thursday, September 29th. One winner will be drawn at random. If you want something to talk about in your comment, tell us some place you’ve always wanted to go.

I’ll start. I know it’s not that exciting, but I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland. I blame watching watching Riverdance on PBS at an impressionable age.

Your turn!

Korean Stuff Giveaway!

I mentioned last week that I was going to have a small giveaway and here it is! I wanted to find a way to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who stuck out my blogging absence during our trip. It’s nothing spectacular, just a few random cute things I picked up in Korea.

Cute overload: (clockwise from the left): pencils, decorative tape, coin purse, ID-I’m different! gum, and a cellphone dongle/keychain (which is actually Japanese but oh well).

AND, this good-sized plastic tote. These were everywhere in Korea and I thought they seemed pretty handy for shopping or storing projects. This one has a zipper and a side pocket (I stuck the pencils in there so you can see the scale).

Well, that’s it. To enter, leave a comment on this post by midnight next Thursday and I’ll pick a winner at random.

Thanks again for reading!

Giveaway: Best Ever Chicken

I recently reviewed Best-Ever Chicken: exciting recipes for every occasion for my Cookbooks on Trial series. It’s a decent book but not really my cup of tea. With 50+ cookbooks on my shelves I’m trying to winnow down the field to only those I really love.

So if you think you’d like Best-Ever Chicken leave a comment below. Next Tuesday morning I’ll pick a winner at random and mail the book to them. (And if none of you guys want it I’ll donate it to a thrift store.)

Miranda’s Giveaway

You guys, thank you for the kind comments yesterday. They were much appreciated. I was feeling a little down and worn out but today’s shaping up to be better.

I wanted to let you know about a giveaway. My ridiculously talented sister-in-law Miranda is trying her hand at making jewelry out of fabric yo-yos. She’s giving away this pretty necklace along with a set of matching earrings on her blog.

If you’re interested, enter before Saturday.