China through Time by DK Publishing

China through Time offers a unique perspective of social life over centuries.

China through Time: a 2,500 year journey along the World’s Greatest Canal illustrated by Du Fei. DK Publishing, 2020, 30 pages

Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 8-10

Recommended for: ages 8-14

Around 486 B. C., before China was an Empire, King Fuchai of Wu Province ordered construction of a canal between the Yangtze and Huai Rivers. His purpose was conquest, not trade, but as always along any transportation route, cities sprang up and a multitude of occupations flourished. Eventually the canal stretched all the way to Beijing, making it the world’s longest, as well as the world’s oldest.

This oversize, full-color picture book captures detailed scenes of life along the Grand Canal of China. The narrative jumps from city to city and era to era in an order that seems random. That’s my big complaint—why skip forwards and back through time, without even a timeline at the end to sort things out? My skimpy knowledge of Asian history could use some help here. Otherwise, the illustrations are worth hours of examinations, as readers are invited to find small details within the larger picture. They can also track the passage of Lihua the Cat throughout history—a feline Waldo. In any age and every place, people are people, and at the very least, China through Time offers a quick social-history tour of this most consequential nation.

Overall Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

Worldview/moral value: 3.5

Artistic value: 4.5

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Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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