In this Chinese import, readers become tourists as each page turn provides views into labyrinthine courtyards and palaces once reserved for imperial China’s emperors.
For almost 600 years, the Forbidden City was home to emperors and their entourages during the Ming and Qing dynasties from 1421 to 1912. Today it stands as the world’s largest enclosed palace and museum, visited by millions of tourists. If readers can’t visit Beijing, this gives an intriguing alternative. On the table of contents, a bird’s-eye-view plan offers a helpful guide to where historical events took place. Through gray-toned, detailed illustrations on multipage spreads, the sections of the Forbidden City unfold, literally, into readers’ hands. While the history covered is complex, there are elements throughout that make it accessible. Tourists and historical Chinese figures alike (and one curious cat) populate the pages, some with thought bubbles expressing facts and observations. A roll call of emperors showcases how each one was famous or infamous. However, most stories of everyday life, while interesting, can be quite dense. The type size is small. These sections are better suited for upper middle grades and older. But all ages will enjoy sifting through grand architectural renderings, especially with the enclosed magnifying glass.
An impressive introduction to the Forbidden City. (author’s note) (Nonfiction. 11 & up)