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Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier
     

Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier

5.0 1
by Ying Chang Compestine
 

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In this action-packed adventure and coming-of-age story that finely weaves fact and fiction, thirteen-year-old Ming lives in a small village in Maoist China in the 1970s. His father is convinced that Emperor Qin's tombùand the life-size terra-cottaáarmy created to serve and protect the emperor in the afterlifeùlies hidden in the hills around them.

Overview

In this action-packed adventure and coming-of-age story that finely weaves fact and fiction, thirteen-year-old Ming lives in a small village in Maoist China in the 1970s. His father is convinced that Emperor Qin's tombùand the life-size terra-cottaáarmy created to serve and protect the emperor in the afterlifeùlies hidden in the hills around them. But if Ming's father doesn't prove it soon, the town's Political Officer willácondemn him to the brutal labor camps. From the stories of a terra-cotta soldier who has survived through the centuries, Ming learns the history of Emperor Qin, known for building the Great Wall of China, and how and why the terra-cotta soldiers came to be. As their unlikely friendship develops, Ming experiences the mysterious tomb firsthand, braving deadly traps and witnessing the terra-cotta army in action. Most importantly, he comes to see how he can save both the terra-cotta soldiers and his father from the corrupt Political Officer and his Communist cronies. The book is illustrated with photographs of Communist Chinese village life in the 1970s, the Great Wall, and, of course, the excavated tomb with its many terra-cotta soldiers.áIt also features a special recipe from the story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/27/2014
Compestine (Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party) teams up with her son Vinson in this riveting work of supernatural historical fiction set in 1970s Maoist China. As a result of Chairman Mao's attacks on intellectuals, 13-year-old Ming and his professor father are forced to move from the city to a small farming village outside of Xi'an, where his only hope of making a living is to persuade the government to open an archeological office to house local artifacts. When a terra-cotta soldier (one of 8,000 modeled after honored soldiers) named Shi is unearthed, it comes to life and leads Ming into Emperor Qin Shi Huang's 2,000-year-old mausoleum. Shi tells Ming stories about fighting the Mongols at the Great Wall at age 14; meanwhile, a greedy and scheming political officer is hot on their trail. The authors' attentiveness to Chinese cuisine, culture, and landscape creates a rich backdrop for a story about the ethics and brutal realities of war. An array of fascinating historical art and photographs enhance the narrative; recipes and historical background are also included. Ages 10–12. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
Ming is thirteen years old, living in rural Communist China, and struggling. His family has fallen out of favor with the ruling Maoists and, as a result, they are exiled to a remote, rural village. There Ming’s mother passes away, his father struggles with a seemingly insignificant job, and Ming, himself, is tormented in school. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, farmers bring the broken pieces of a full sized terra-cotta soldier to the small museum that Ming’s father curates. With his father out of town, Ming must take charge of the relic. Amazingly the head of the soldier comes to life and helps Ming to reassemble the broken bits of his body. What follows is an Indiana Jones type of adventure story that involves the protection of a massive ancient tomb, political corruption, cruelty, and heroism. In the end Ming discovers that there truly is more on earth and heaven than we can imagine, as well as the fact that true friendship is of incalculable value. Along the way Ming also learns what life was like in the 13th century Chinese Army, the human cost of building the Great Wall, and how bravery and courage can shape one’s life. Written by a mother-son team of authors, this takes readers back into the era of the Cultural Revolution in China as well as the distant age of the building of the Great Wall. In telling this magical story the authors help their reading audience to learn more about Chinese history through a story that has great charm. Ming and his terra-cotta friend become believable characters trying to right wrongs while simultaneously experiencing hardships that the reader can appreciate. Through careful historical research and a winning eye for character and plot development, the Compestines have crafted a book that will capture and hold their readers’ attention. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck; Ages 10 to 12.
School Library Journal
04/01/2014
Gr 4–7—After being exiled to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, Ming's father is in danger of losing his job when three farmers unearth a terra-cotta statue. Amazingly, the statue comes to life and tells the 13-year-old Ming about his life guarding the Great Wall from invading Mongols. At the same time, Ming is ridiculed by his classmates and teacher for not being a peasant. When he and the statue uncover a plot to rob the Emperor Qin's tomb and denounce Ming's father, they are determined to stop it. The story draws on the parallels between the ruthless leadership of Chairman Mao and Emperor Qin (comparisons frequently made at the time of the former's dictatorship) while still shying away from many of the Cultural Revolution's horrors in order to stay age-appropriate. Chinese words and characters are incorporated, sometimes awkwardly, but the history is skillfully woven into the action. The statue's backstory and the secret traps of the tomb provide ample adventure. A good match for fans of Jeff Stone's "Five Ancestors: Out of the Ashes" series (Random). Several photographs help illustrate the daily life during the 1970s and artifacts excavated from the emperor's tomb.—Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington County Public Libraries, VA
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-18
Ancient China literally comes alive to expose buried treasures in this novel co-written by Ying Chang Compestine (Crouching Tiger, 2011, etc.) and her son, Vinson. Under Maoist rule, Ming lives in a village with b? ba, his father, an archaeologist who works for the museum in Xi'an and who is on the verge of losing his job. When reward-seeking farmers bring Ming newly unearthed head and limb fragments fashioned from clay, Ming discovers the artifacts have much to reveal. The clay head begins to speak, claiming to be Shí, one of thousands of terra-cotta soldiers created to protect the tomb of Emperor Qin, the ruthless leader who built the Great Wall of China. As Shí tells Ming stories of his life in battle, they become fast friends. They embark on a mission to save the tomb from corrupt government officials and to save Ming's father from being sent to harsh labor camps. Shí's brutal war stories tend to overshadow aspects of Ming's personal story, like Ming's relationship with his father, but they are compelling nonetheless. Although Ming's acceptance of a talking statue feels swift, their friendship is believable. They hail from different eras, but they share a common desire: to keep their parents safe. Historical photos and Indiana Jones–style adventure enrich this tale of an unusual meeting between the Qin Dynasty and the 20th century. (glossary, authors' note, recipe, authors Q&A) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781613125328
Publisher:
Amulet Books
Publication date:
01/07/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
18 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

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Meet the Author

Ying Chang Compestineágrew up in China and now lives in Lafayette, California. She is a popular author of children's books, cookbooks, and novels.

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Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
It is around 1974, and thirteen-year-old Ming, whose mother has died, lives in the small, remote Maoist Chinese village of Red Star. His father Chen, an intellectual who has been demoted by Mao, is an archaeologist with the museum in Xi’an. Chen believes that the tomb of the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huang who built the Great Wall, with its life-size terra-cotta army created to serve and protect the emperor in the afterlife, lies hidden in the hills around them, though he has no actual evidence. In fact, while the father is away pleading for more time, the Gee brothers bring in one of the soldiers for Chen to examine. While Ming awaits his father’s return, the soldier miraculously comes to life and begins telling Ming all about the history of Emperor Qin, the Great Wall, and why the terra-cotta soldiers came to be. However, the town’s Political Officer finds out about it and hatches a plan to raid the tomb, sell the artifacts on the black market, blame Ming and his father, and condemn them to the brutal labor camps. Ming and the soldier, named Shi, escape to the mysterious tomb where Ming experiences the tomb firsthand, braves deadly traps, and witnesses the terra-cotta army in action. But will he be able to save both the terra-cotta soldiers and his father from the corrupt Political Officer and his Communist cronies? The book is illustrated with photographs of the excavated tomb with its many terra-cotta soldiers and the Great Wall, as well as of Communist Chinese village life in the 1970s during the Cultural Revolution. There are some instances of praying “to gods known and unknown,” including the kitchen god, and a few references to drinking wine. However, the action-packed adventure story contains a lot of history not only about the reign of Emperor Qin but also about small village life in 1970s China woven into the fictional narrative. The authors are a mother-and-son team. Ying Chang Compestine grew up in Communist China but now lives in the United States and is a popular author of children’s books who made herself known to the young adult literature community through her 2007 novel Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party based upon her childhood. Vinson Compestine is a National Merit Scholar. Intermediate readers will likely find Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier interesting both for its excitement and for its historical information about these fascinating time periods. Also included are Chinese words, such as Ba Ba for father, that are written out in Chinese characters and accompanied by their translations as well.