All About China: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and More for Kids
By Allison “Aixin” Branscombe
Illustrations by Lin Wang
64 pages (hardcover) – ages 7+
Published by Tuttle Publishing on November 11, 2014
Synopsis- From Amazon: “Take the whole family on a whirlwind tour of Chinese history and culture with this delightfully illustrated book that is packed with stories, activities and games. Travel from the stone age through the dynasties to the present day with songs and crafts for kids that will teach them about Chinese language and the Chinese way of life.”
What I liked- This is a great activity-filled ,information PACKED book that teaches you about life as it is and was in China. It talks about the dynasties of China, daily life in China, games and traditions of China, and much more! There is a huge diversity in the things to read about. Ms. Branscombe has written a wonderful encyclopedia-like resource. Lin Wang’s illustrations bring the book to life. They are realistic and captivating. I could see schools or homeschool families using this book to teach a whole unit on China.
I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!
Now for an interview with the author, Allison “Aixin” Branscombe!
Erik: All About China is packed with all sorts of information about the country. How did you go about researching the book and how long did it take you to do it?
Ms. Branscombe: This book is the result of about 15 years of research! At first, I did not know I was going to write a book, I just wanted to learn about China after I adopted my daughters. It happened over time, as I wrote about China for the Families with Children from China Newsletter and other articles I wrote, help set up and run playgroups and crafts fairs. I am a curious person, and I made friends with people in the Chinese American community through my kids’ school, the local Chinese Culture Foundation, the Organization of Chinese Americans and other groups. I also bought lots of books on Chinese culture for all ages of readers!
Erik: I was amazed at the amount of information you put into 62 pages and how well-organized it is. What part of the book was the most difficult to write?
Ms. Branscombe: Thank you! Part of the “big picture” organization came from the publisher, Tuttle, which has published other books in the series (All About Korea, Japan and Indonesia). However, I added some of my own categories, and made the organization work for what I wanted readers to know. The part that was the most difficult to write was the information on the dynasties and inventions, because I had “word budgets” of about 100 to 200 words on each dynasty (and I only had room for a few dynasties). It was tough to choose what was most important to include, to boil it down and make it interesting for the reader.
Erik: What surprised you most when you did your research?
Ms. Branscombe: Great question! Because of all the people who have researched China before, and written about it in English, there have been some inaccurate translations from the original Chinese words. Sorting out which version was most authentic was sometimes difficult. Having Chinese experts to consult was very helpful to me.
Erik: You are the adoptive mother of two children from China (just so you know, I am adopted too 😉 ), and it says in the author description in the book that you wrote this book to help your children know about their heritage. Do you have any tips for other adoptive parents on how to connect their children with their heritage?
Ms. Branscombe: Just what you and I are doing: read, read, and read some more! And make friends with people of your children’s heritage because they have lived it and can be a fantastic bridge to understanding. Besides getting to know Chinese and other Asian American adults, I made opportunities to get to know some adult adoptees of all different backgrounds. The adult adoptees can be great guides to understanding and discussing some of the cultural, adoptive and racial issues faced by our children. Helping their kids connect with something special in their birth heritage is really helpful also, whether it is through language learning, sports (such as the Asian sports leagues, tai chi, gong fu), dance, music, cooking, art/painting, or similar efforts helps the child get more personal insights into their heritage. Plus, it is fun! Who does not want their horizons broadened?
Erik: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell my blog readers about?
Ms. Branscombe: I don’t have anything concrete in the works. I am pondering a specific Chinese crafts-only workbook for kids. On a completely different subject, I am thinking about a book for kids on how to stand up for themselves and educate other kids when they get both friendly and mean questions about differences, such being adopted, having a physical, health or learning challenge, and other things kids must deal with.
Thank for you reviewing my book and sharing your thoughts and my experiences with your readers.
Thank you, Ms. Branscombe! I really appreciate you doing this interview with me!