Book Review: Mystery of the Giant Masks of Sanxingdui
Reviewed by Silverflash413
On January 27th, 2015, schools, educators, librarians and bloggers across the nation will be participating in the 2nd annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day. #ReadYourWorld
Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.
Mystery of the Giant Masks of Sanxingdui written by Icy Smith and illustrated by Gayle Garner Roski is a beautifully written and illustrated picture book.
The enticing watercolor illustrations are a wonderful invitation to explore the culture of Sanxingdui, an ancient town in China. Through a glimpse of a day in the life of Min, one of the main characters, the readers learn about the events that reveal the people’s collective sacrifice for peace.
The story begins with the exciting preparations that lead up to the Warrior Festival in which Min’s brother, Wei, will celebrate becoming a man. Wei’s father surprises him with a frail elephant named Little Yong so that Wei can raise and train to become a warrior.
The ceremony provides an insight into the significance of the masks.The people worship and protect them, as they believe that their ancestors and animal Gods left them behind for the protection of the people. Men are praised as warriors during the celebration. Shortly after the ceremony, a thunderstorm floods their town and Wei’s weak elephant rescues Min. The flood causes great damage to their homes and the fear of invaders, who seek their bronzed wares, threaten their safety. Through a sacred mask, the Shaman seeks advice from their ancestors and learns that Min holds the solution. Min shares her wisdom as she interprets Little Yong’s rescue as a sign to avoid war. Treasures are buried in hopes that future generations would uncover them and learn about the history of the people of Sanxingdui.
My second grade class, which is comprised of mostly of Hispanic English Language Learners, enjoyed the story. However, their lack of previous exposure to the Chinese culture caused laughter at the sight of the masks’ protruding eyes. This opened the discussion about respect and the similarities and differences of the Chinese culture and their own.
The setting and content was foreign to them and I found myself constantly clarifying terms and ideas throughout. Therefore, I decided to break it up into a two day read. This gave them enough time to digest the content and enjoy it at the same time. The masks, elephants, dangers of the flood, and the suspense, in the story, kept them engaged. Since the story was nicely told through Min’s eyes, they did not realize they were learning about history.
Many students were disappointed about the people of Sanxingdui’s decision to leave behind their buried treasures. They wrote an opinion piece to express their ideas about the outcome of the story. Most agreed that the people of Zanxingdui made the best choice to walk away from war. They also enjoyed drawing and coloring their own mask. They were thrilled to learn that this story was about the “ninth wonder of the world.”
This book was a beautiful introduction to China’s ancient history. A must read for teachers, librarians, and children, young and old.
- Wisdom TalesPress::
- Daybreak Press::Najiyah::
- Satya House::
- Author Stephen Hodges::
First Book will offer a Virtual Book Drive that will help donate multicultural children’s books during Multicultural Children’s Book Day.
MCCBD is also collaborating with Children’s Book Council to highlight wonderful diversity books and authors on an ongoing basis all year.
- Lee and Low Books
- The Omnibus Publishing.
- Rainbow Books::
- Author Felicia Capers::
- Chronicle Books
- Bliss Group Books
- Muslim Writers Publishing
Author Sponsors include:
Beautiful Rainbow World by Suzee Ramirez
Lulu and the Very Big Meanies by Mac McGooshie, illustrated by Alexis Hogwood
Real Street Kidz Multicultural Children’s Book Series by Quentin Holmes
I received a free copy of this book for MCCBD 2015. I was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.