"Zheng He was a larger-than-life, fifteenth-century Chinese military leader, explorer, and visionary peacemaker. Appointed admiral of the expanding Chinese navy, he made seven important voyages with a vast armada of gargantuan ships, and opened the world to China 'with a policy of peace to all the rulers and people he met everywhere.' The mixed-media illustrations are in Demi's unique style, with tiny figures against stark, vast backdrops dominated by patches of dazzling reds and golds. The show-stopping depictions of the huge sails of the magnificent ships burst beyond the page borders. The text is placed in blocks at the edges of the pages, almost as if they are captions for the large-framed illustrations. But the saga of Zheng He's accomplishments, as well as bits of information about Chinese politics and culture, often prove just as interesting as the pictures. Though the information seems reliable, the lack of source documentation or an author's not puts some limits on this for classroom use."
"This glowing tribute to the 15th-century Chinese admiral describes the seven voyages Zheng He commanded, commissioned by the third Ming emperor, Zhu Di. Overseeing a fleet of more than 300 ships, sailing on the world's largest wooden vessels, and commanding a navy of more than 27,000 men required a larger-than-life figure. Zheng He is described as not only a large man with a powerful voice but also as educated, skilled in diplomacy, and having ideas far ahead of his time. The voyages he commanded were designed to set up and reinforce diplomatic relations. Each commission returned loaded with riches and ambassadors from faraway ports. His travels are documented as sailing as far west and south as southern Kenya, but Demi hints at the theory that the fleets found their way to Australia and the New World, beating Columbus by 70 years. All records were destroyed after the emperor's death and China turned inward, leaving the ships to rot. After Zheng He's death at sea, the navy crumbled. Descriptions of the ships; details of the riches they traded, including giraffes and other animals; and battles with pirates all add interest. A map tracks the general path of all seven voyages with a single line. Done in her signature gold, finely patterned borders and Chinese red, Demi's images evoke a sense of time and place. No source information is provided. Units on explorers and China will be enriched by this offering."
The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), an affiliate of the American Library Association, has selected the winners of the 2013 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature. The awards promote Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage and are awarded based on literary and artistic merit.
The awards are given in five categories, with winner and honor books selected in each category. The winners of the 2013 awards include:
Picture Book Winner: Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth, written by Joan Schoettler and illustrated by Jessica Lanan, published by Shen's Books. Picture Book Honor was given to A Path of Stars written by Anne Sibley O'Brien, published by Charlesbridge.
Children's Literature: Hildi Kang's Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan published by Tanglewood Publishing. Shark King by Kikuo Johnson and published by Toon Books was selected as an honor recipient.
Young Adult Literature winner: Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary written by Keshni Kashyap, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Young Adult Literature Honor was given to Ichiro written by Ryan Inzana, also published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
The Collective by Don Lee and published by W. W. Norton & Company was selected as the Adult Fiction winner. Drifting House by Krys Lee and published by Viking Penguin was selected as an Adult Fiction honor title.
Adult Non-Fiction winner: Third Asiatic Invasion: Empire and Migration in Filipino America, 1989-1946, by Rick Baldoz and published by New York University Press. The Adult Non-Fiction honor book is Forbidden Citizens, by Martin B. Gold and published by The Capitol.Net.
Winner and Honor books were chosen from titles published from October 2010 to September 2012. The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) was founded in 1980 by librarians of diverse Asian/Pacific ancestries committed to working together toward a common goal: to create an organization that would address the needs of Asian/Pacific American librarians and those who serve Asian/Pacific American communities.
The winners will each receive an award plaque at the APALA Award Ceremony on Sunday, June 30, 2013 during the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, IL.
We will have two author signings on Saturday, the 17th:
- Joan Schoettler signing Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth at 11:00am
- Demi signing The Great Voyages of Zheng He at 4:00pm
And if you're going to be at the conference on Sunday the 18th, don't miss Demi's presentation about the book at 10:30 am. See you there!
California School Library Association Annual Conference
November 16-17, 2012
301 South Market Street
San Jose, CA 95113
"Demi's account of 15th-century Chinese explorer Zheng He is enlivened by images of the dazzling wealth his fleet carried back to China: "Precious ambergris used for medicine, cowrie shells, sapphires, rubies, oriental topaz, and Persian carpets filled the Forbidden City." His 62 "Treasure Ships" were the largest the world had ever seen, but Zheng He also displayed a wealth of intellect and imagination that allowed him to embrace religious tolerance and open-mindedness--an attitude that might have had its source in his status as a Muslim in China. After a war in Ceylon, a statue he erected there "addressed Buddha, Shiva, and Allah, offering thanks for their compassion and moral virtue." Demi's skill as a biographer is on display, with details and context that add life and clarity. Her Persian miniature-like illustrations teach, too, showing the building of one of the fleet's ships and a portrait of Zheng He's burial at sea. It's especially valuable as a portrait of a hero whose adventures were driven not by the hunger to conquer, but by a desire simply to know and be known. Ages 8-up. (Nov.) "
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Emily Jiang is a writer of children's and YA literature. She also blogs at TLeaf Readings.
Shen’s Books is a publisher of multicultural children’s literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.
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