The Mysteries of Angkor Wat

Overview

What mysteries hide inside this ancient Cambodian temple? When local children lead the author through the ruins, he discovers a little-known secret.

In 1100 CE, the mighty Khmer people of Cambodia built the world's largest religious monument: the sprawling stone temple of Angkor Wat. Now, thousands visit the crumbling ruins each year to see the last remains of the ancient and mysterious Khmer civilization. Photographer Richard Sobol explored these fascinating ruins, searching ...

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Overview

What mysteries hide inside this ancient Cambodian temple? When local children lead the author through the ruins, he discovers a little-known secret.

In 1100 CE, the mighty Khmer people of Cambodia built the world's largest religious monument: the sprawling stone temple of Angkor Wat. Now, thousands visit the crumbling ruins each year to see the last remains of the ancient and mysterious Khmer civilization. Photographer Richard Sobol explored these fascinating ruins, searching among the fallen, moss-covered stone slabs and wall carvings for clues that might link the ancient Khmer people to present-day Cambodian culture. A personal narrative and illustrative photography document his pilgrimage, capturing the historical legacy and mystery contained within the walls of Angkor Wat. A glossary, maps, and key facts are included.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The handsome book contains captioned color photographs on each page; they give interesting glimpses into the modern lives of the people living around this ancient site and a fascinating look at the ruins themselves.
—School Library Journal
Children's Literature - Kris Sauer
Angkor Wat may not be considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but it should be. A thousand years ago, Angkor Wat ruled Southeast Asia. To put that in perspective, combine Los Angeles and New York City with Washington, DC, and you'll get some idea of the importance this city had at the time. At its peak, King Javaryman VII's empire boasted at least one million people, and the ruins of more than a thousand intricately carved and decorated stone temples are a testament to the impact this ancient city had. Today, the ruins of these temples are considered to be the largest religious monument in the world. Amazingly, beyond the ruins themselves, not one relic or artifact has been found to hint at the lives these people led. What is left includes carvings of more than three thousand unique apsara dancers (a traditional Cambodian dance) and 216 enormous faces carved into fifty-four towers, hinting at these ancient peoples' stories. Told in the first person by an award-winning photographer, this nonfiction picture book includes an utterly engaging text supported by fantastic photographs. In it, the author befriends a gaggle of children whose lives are spent living, studying, and working in and around the ruins. Through them, Sobol discovers among the more well-known ruins a carving that appears to be of a stegosaurus. Children will be utterly fascinated. The combination of a well-told story with photos that highlight both the ruins and the children who live among them make the connections between the ancient and modern worlds come alive. Part of the author's "Traveling Photographer" series, the book also includes a facts page and a glossary. This would be an excellent supplement to any elementary level ancient civilization or cultural geography curriculum. Reviewer: Kris Sauer
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—This ancient temple, located in the jungles of Cambodia, has long been a source of mystery, reverence, and wonder. Sobol takes readers on a journey into the heart of the 1000-year-old ruins and presents a fascinating look at the history of the temple, the people who built it and worshipped there, and the current culture surrounding it. A good amount of information is presented while keeping the text conversational and accessible for young people. Sobol describes illuminating talks with his guide, John Teng; interactions with local children; and the history of the Khmer people and their empire, which mysteriously disappeared in the 15th century. The handsome book contains captioned color photographs on each page; they give interesting glimpses into the modern lives of the people living around this ancient site and a fascinating look at the ruins themselves. A list of "Angkor Wat Facts" is provided at the end of the book. This volume is a good companion to Michael and Mary B. Woods's Seven Wonders of Ancient Asia (21st Century Books, 2008), which discusses Angkor Wat, but does not provide the firsthand view that Sobol offers.—Rita Meade, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews

A photographer explores the ancient Cambodian temple and modern Siem Reap looking for odd angles, surprises and reflections of today's world in the ancient carvings.

As promised, except for a few traditional postcard images, these photographs are unusual and often feature the children who sell fruit and souvenirs at the monument gates and play among the 1,000-year-old ruins. The centerpiece is a photo album of modern Cambodian life with accompanying images of ancient carvings showing similar activities. Sobol weaves a brief explanation of the Khmer Empire and their ruined temple complex into his travelogue. He visits a dance studio, where he sees students practicing traditional gestures just like those of dancers on the temple walls, and a school where youngsters learn English. At the end, these children lead Sobol past the ancient trees and stone rubble in Ta Prohm to a surprising carving, their favorite. While not quite the secret Sobol portrays, since photographs of this curious creature have been available on the Web for several years, this image is sure to appeal to child readers as much as it does to visitors.

Part of Sobol's Traveling Photographer series, this useful introduction to a famous tourist destination has unexpected child appeal. (facts, glossary, unlabeled world map) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763641665
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 8/23/2011
  • Series: Traveling Photographer Series
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 1,425,826
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Sobol is an author and award-winning photographer whose work has appeared in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, TIME, NEWSWEEK, ROLLING STPNE, and numerous other magazines. His children's books include BREAKFAST IN THE RAINFOREST and THE LIFE OF RICE, also part of the TRAVELING PHOTOGRAPHER series. When not traveling, Richard Sobol is home in Massachusetts with his family.

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