Su Dongpo: Chinese Genius

by Demi

Hardcover, 2006



Call number

921 SU

Call number

921 SU

Local notes

921 SU



Lee & Low Books (2006), 56 pages


"A biography of Su Dongpo, Chinese poet, civil engineer, and statesman, whose appreciation for nature and justice were evident in his works and led him to experience both triumph and adversity in 11th century China"--Provided by publisher.


Original language


Physical description

56 p.; 10.28 inches


1584302569 / 9781584302568



User reviews

LibraryThing member KeithMaddox
This is a beautiful picture book written and illustrated by Demi (an award-winning author and illustrator who has produced such an excellent book here that I will not judge her for going by one name). The subject is Su Dongpo (born Su Shih), whom I have never heard of, though the author tells us that if I was Chinese I would certainly have heard of this noted poet, philosopher, politician, and engineer. The book is a biography, starting with his birth, and each page contains a very short text of prose describing Dongpo's life, intermingled with some of his poetry. The majority of each page is a picture, painted in a Chinese style of the period, that uses such rich colors (in particular gold) that I am not sure how it was published. Either way, I recommed reading this book in a well-lit area to get the full effect. The art is impressive and beautiful, and easy to follow and interpret along with the text.
The frontispiece contains the list of sources, a note on pronunciation that is authoritative if not particularly useful to a secondary student, and a translation of the calligraphy that accompanies the cover illustration. There is a (beautiful, of course) map at the beginning of the book which shows all of the places that will be important. One feature this book lacks (its only real disappointment) is pagination, with any kind of index or table of contents, though the amount of text is so minimal on each page that this probably does not pose a real problem. Perhaps Demi felt this would interrupt the artistic flow of the book.
The way the story is written is simple, clear, and engaging, and I think any middle or high school student (and perhaps an advanced elementary student) could read and enjoy this book without much prior knowledge. As far as pronouning names, there is no real help for students, so this would not be a book to be read aloud without some coaching. The only other possible concern for the prose is the tone, which is poetic and somewhat fairy tale-esque. A young reader may have difficult combining the historical information with statements like, "Because Su Shih lived in harmony with nature, the smallest birds felt safe to land in his hand." However, that being said, the book not only masterfully combines the narrative prose with Dongpo's poetry, and the text with the illustrations, but also does an incredible job of integrating the content and extraneous information in a way that is useful without despoiling the art. The book uses dates and geographic information to place the events, and the pictures are not only authentic and well-formed, but also contain information. In particular I found fascinating the illustration for when Su Shih and his brother take the Civil Service exam, each in one of a long line of paper "cubicles" that have been brought to this outdoor area for this purpose.
I could see this book being read out-loud in an English class, a History class, or a Geography class. Students would certainly enjoy the experience if it could be fit in. However, I cannot see a more particular use of this book, as its intent is more as an artwork than an expository piece. However, I can see this being part of the library of any class, as it is readable and interesting, and it certainly cannot hurt for any student to learn more about China and become acquainted with Su Dongpo.
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LibraryThing member Dipodomy
Recounts the life of Su Dongpo, a Chinese poet, scholar and statesman who is recognized for his feats of engineering, progressive social reforms, and poetry. He was twice exiled for speaking out against corrupt governance and is known as a champion of the people. Good lessons on kindness, justice, and positivity in the face of adversity. Impressive traditional style illustrations with great use of gold.… (more)






(4 ratings; 4.3)
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