THE FORBIDDEN CITY: a look in two picture books


Rabbit is eating breakfast with his friends Baby Squirrel, Young Porcupine, and Little Brother Panda when an unexpected visitor arrives. He is a master builder, searching for inspiration to design a great palace for the Emperor of China. Together, Uncle Builder and the little animals explore how nature supplies us with the wonders that enrich our lives.

Created by internationally renowned children's book artists Brian Tse and Alice Mak, this book teaches children about Chinese architecture, how nature's influence can be seen around us, and how people and animals can live together in harmony. The illustrations capture both the majesty of the natural world and the Forbidden City and are enhanced by interactive components for readers, including a gatefold spread and lift-flaps.


A very pleasing and informative book, This is the Greatest Place looks at the building of the Forbidden City and how the natural world inspired the builder.  The story is told through the eyes of a bunny rabbit and his friends who meet the builder in the forest.  There are flaps and an extended illustration that help highlight this most remarkable of cities.  Under the flaps are actual photographs from the city that show the things the book talks about.  The illustrations are cute and the pictures of the buildings are fascinating.  At the end of the book is more information about the building and some of its many features, including a map.  A great introduction to one of the world's greatest cultural treasures.


Serving as the seat of imperial power for six centuries, the Forbidden City is one of China's most famous and enigmatic landmarks. Accompanied by a mischievous cat, readers will tour this colossal architectural structure, discovering the secrets hidden inside the palace walls. They will encounter the people who have walked through its halls and gardens, including emperors, empresses, and rebel leaders, and hear exciting tales about the power struggles and intrigues of everyday life.

This large format book conveys the grandeur of the Forbidden City through highly detailed line drawings of its buildings, gardens, and courtyards with numerous fold-out spreads. Each page is populated by a large variety of characters and peppered with entertaining anecdotes. Every book includes a plastic magnifying glass for looking at the drawings more closely.


The amount of detail in this book is absolutely mind-boggling.  I can only imagine how long it must have taken to create the pictures.  The inclusion of a small magnifying glass was much appreciated as it helped me look at some of the tiny details.  This is the sort of book that you could spend hours looking at and still not have found all the information.  The text is rather heavy so the book works better for older students, plus the extended pages are awkward for little hands.  The information I found fascinating since my knowledge of the Forbidden City and the Ming and Qing dynasties is rather limited.  While the book focuses on the city itself, the reader also catches a glimpse into the lives of the Emperors who lived there and how their lives impacted the whole country.  The book definitely made me want to go visit the city (now a museum) to see all the amazing sights for myself. A great resource for teachers and parents and a fantastic glimpse at an unusual place full of history and art.


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