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The Great Voyages of Zheng He

By Demi
$21.95, Hardcover, 64 pages
English Text
Ages 8 and up
ISBN-10: 1885008457
ISBN-13: 9781885008459

Imagine looking out to sea and watching over three hundred gargantuan ships, their flaming red sails caught in the wind, approaching your shore. What wonders of the world would be found on those ships?

Over 600 hundred years ago, Emperor Zhu Di of China decided to build the greatest naval fleet the world had ever seen to befriend and trade with countries throughout Asia and Africa. The admiral of this diplomatic and treasure-gathering fleet was a brilliant and peace-loving man named Zheng He.

Between 1405 and 1431, Zheng He led seven voyages of the treasure fleets, each bringing a message of friendship and peace between China and the other countries of the world. Through his leadership, these expeditions extended China’s influence and brought it great treasures in trade and tribute, making China the first world superpower.

In this account of Zheng He’s amazing life, award-winning author and illustrator Demi recreates the grandeur and enthusiasm of these naval voyages with her signature detailed artwork. She introduces us to this larger-than-life figure who “dreamed of a world where the best of mankind was peacefully shared and celebrated, a world of intellectual growth and religious tolerance, and a world of everlasting, worldwide peace.”

News and Thoughts

ForeWord Magazine 2012 Book of the Year Award Finalist

BOTYA-Finalist-seal.jpgForeWord Magazine announced their 2012 Book of the Year finalists, and The Great Voyages of Zheng He was honored in the juvenile non-fiction category. Congratulations! Actually, double congratulations to author and illustrator Demi, who has two books on the finalist list.


The Great Voyages of Zheng He, written and illustrated by Demi, was reviewed in the February 15, 2013 issue of Booklist.

"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."

School Library Journal

The Great Voyages of Zheng He, written and illustrated by Demi, was reviewed in the February 2013 issue of School Library Journal:

"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."

Visions: Demi at Hicklebee's


Visions: Demi signing at CSLA


Nov. 17, 2012: Demi Signing at Hicklebee's

The prolific azhenghe.jpgnd award-winning author Demi will be at Hicklebee's Books on Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 2:00pm. She will be signing her newest book, The Great Voyages of Zheng He.

Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012
2:00 pm
Hicklebee's Books
1378 Lincoln Ave.
San Jose, CA 95125

Publisher's Weekly

zhenghe.jpgA very nice review of The Great Voyages of Zheng He by Demi was published in the October 29, 2012 issue of Publisher's Weekly. We are so pleased!

"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.) "

Demi was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and now lives in Yarrow Point, Washington. She studied art at the Institue Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico; with Sister Corita at the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles; at the M.S. University in Baroda, India, while on a Fulbright scholarship; and at the China Institute for Arts in New York City. Her husband, Tze-si Jesse Huang, introduced her to the religion, folklore, ancient culture, and history of China.

Demi is the author and illustrator of more than one hundred children’s books, including biographies of Jesus, Buddha, and the Dalai Lama, as well as folktales such as The Empty Pot and Liang and the Magic Paintbrush. Her work has received many awards and accolades, among them the Christopher Award, which recognizes individuals whose work makes a positive difference in the world, and the Middle East Book Award. Her titles have been designated American Library Association Notable Children’s Books, New York Times Best Illustrated Books, Notable Books for a Global Society, and American Bookseller Pick of the List Books.

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.

Through books, we can share a world a stories, building greater understanding and tolerance within our increasingly diverse communities as well as throughout our continuously shrinking globe.