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The Empress and the Silkworm Hardcover – January 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 540L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807520098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807520093
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 8.7 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Falling into the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction category, the story of silk-its path from pupa to necktie-is inherently pretty interesting. But toss in a 5000-year-old Chinese legend about the discovery of silk, and the story becomes even more intriguing. One morning, around 2700 B.C., a cocoon falls into the empress Si Ling-Chi's teacup. The cocoon unwinds in the hot tea, revealing its delicate strands and prompting the empress to dream of seeing her husband, the Yellow Emperor, "clothed in a robe woven from the heavenly thread." Silk production begins, the emperor gets his robe, and the empress becomes known as "the Lady of the Silkworm." Unfortunately Hong's (Two of Everything) illustrations deaden the brilliance of their subject. Airbrushed, her acrylics and gouache pictures feel pale and washed out, the characters moon-faced and silly. The static quality of the art, sadly, dominates the volume. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4?Tradition honors Si Ling-Chi, wife of the legendary "Yellow Emperor," Huang-Ti, who ruled China nearly 5,000 years ago, with the discovery of silk. In Hong's well-paced narrative, the empress is a creative, curious, and determined woman who heeds omens and dreams. When a cocoon falls out of a mulberry tree into her morning tea, she is intrigued by it and unwinds a softened lustrous thread from its core. In a dream, she sees her husband garbed in a "shimmering yellow robe" woven of this thread, and she persues her vision in the face of ridicule by courtiers, eventually creating the first silk cloth. An endnote summarizes what is known about the history of Chinese silk and explains how it is made. The illustrations feature Hong's soft, clear blocks of color and static, doll-like figures, familiar to readers of How the Ox Star Fell from Heaven (1991) and Two of Everything (1993, both Albert Whitman). The gorgeous gowns and buildings suggest China during the Ching Dynasty (A.D.1644-1912). Readers will find this era more recognizably "Chinese" than any pictures attempting to show mythic times. A useful addition, particularly in elementary schools where China is studied.?Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a charming tale of how a Chinese empress supposedly discovered silk thread in a cocoon, which led to the making of silk cloth for imperial dress. It also tells why the Chinese kept the process a secret for 3,000 years. The book includes background information for the legend. It's a wonderful introduction to the process of silk making, and as a sixth grade teacher, I plan to use it in my teaching about China, silk making, and silk trade. Elementary and middle school children studying about China will enjoy and appreciate this book; so might adults who like wearing silk.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Wilson on May 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First let me say that I LOVE this book. It is an excellent addition to my 6th grade Ancient China unit. However the company that I bought it from was SO slow on their delivery. It took almost 4 weeks to get this book. By the time I received my copy, my unit was over. Thank goodness the public library had a copy! Can't wait to use it next year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Hansen on November 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent story that everyone will enjoy. Don't hesitate to buy it!
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Format: Hardcover
Considering that the origin of the silk industry of China has long since been lost to history, this story was considerably better "fleshed out" than I expected for something I was mentally placing in the category of "legend." We read it as a family for a study of the discovery of the whole silk "thing," worms to the Silk Road.

There is a page in the back for older kids/adults with more details about the silk making process and so forth. One of the most amazing details included is that the Chinese were able to keep the entire process a secret from the outside world for 3000 years! They punished the hint of such secrets being lost with death - and they meant business.

I'm glad we read this book!
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