The Cloudmakers

Overview

In A.D. 751, an old Chinese grandfather and his grandson are captured by the Great Sultan of Samarkand. Rather than be sold into slavery, they are granted seven days to prove Young Wu?s claim that they can ?make clouds.? Grandfather and grandson set to work, using only what they have with them: their rope shoes, a walking stick, and a worn carrying sack. The result is Chinese paper, earning them their freedom and marking a turning point in human history. This paperback edition includes a new map not available in ...

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Overview

In A.D. 751, an old Chinese grandfather and his grandson are captured by the Great Sultan of Samarkand. Rather than be sold into slavery, they are granted seven days to prove Young Wu’s claim that they can “make clouds.” Grandfather and grandson set to work, using only what they have with them: their rope shoes, a walking stick, and a worn carrying sack. The result is Chinese paper, earning them their freedom and marking a turning point in human history. This paperback edition includes a new map not available in the hardcover edition.

A Chinese grandfather and his grandson who are captured by the Arab army barter for their freedom by demonstrating the art of papermaking.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 1-4The secrets of Chinese papermaking are disclosed to the Arabs in this intriguing piece of historical fiction. Chinese annals give A.D. 105 as the date the world's first true paper was presented to the Emperor. Knowledge of the process traveled slowly westward, reaching Europe on the eve of the Renaissance. According to the author's note, victorious Arab troops captured several papermakers after winning a battle in 751 with the Chinese in Turkestan. This well-written, rhythmic story casts those anonymous papermakers as Old Wu and his young grandson, accidental witnesses to the engagement. To avoid being sold into slavery with the other prisoners of war, Young Wu boasts to the Sultan of Samarkand that his grandfather can make clouds. In seven days, Grandfather manufactures paper as the Chinese did, with hemp and lye. Adding poetry and drama to the process, Young Wu describes each step as if the end product will actually be a cloud. The Sultan, who knows a sheet of paper when he sees one, prizes the elderly man's knowledge and rewards him for teaching his skills. Watercolor paintings bring a remote time and place to life, capturing atmosphere, dramatic cloud formations, light of moon and sun, and the characters' emotions. While the story is well told and interesting enough to stand on its own, it would certainly enrich children's own efforts at making paper by hand, as well as studies of Asian history.Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA
Kirkus Reviews
When Young Wu, a young Chinese boy, and his grandfather are captured by invading Arabs, they win their freedom by promising their captor, the Sultan of Samarkand, that the old man can "make clouds." They are given seven days to produce this miracle, pounding their soaked hemp shoes into fiber, using wood ash and hot water, then drying the solution they've made on a frame made out of the grandfather's cane and a worn sack. When they finally produce the dried piece of paper, the boy proclaims it a cloud as it drifts through the air. The Sultan recognizes "the cloud" as paper, and is eager to learn the secret of paper-making for his own people. A historical note helps young readers make the leap between folklore and fact: Based on an Arab legend, the story recounts a battle the Chinese lost in a.d. 751. Lyrical watercolor paintings perfectly complement the spare, engaging text.
From the Publisher
"A historical note helps young readers make the leap between folklore and fact. . . . Lyrical watercolor paintings perfectly complement the spare, engaging text." Kirkus Reviews
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618689514
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/26/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,414,468
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Master storyteller James Rumford combines his love for art and history in his picture books. Each of his books is vastly different in its content, design, and illustrations but one aspect remains constant throughout his work: his passion about his subjects. Rumford, a resident of Hawaii, has studied more than a dozen languages and worked in the Peace Corps, where he traveled to Africa, Asia, and Afghanistan. He draws from these experiences and the history of his subject when he is working on a book. His book Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing was a 2005 Sibert Honor winner.

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