Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
This is the Greatest Place!: The Forbidden City and the World of Small Animals

This is the Greatest Place!: The Forbidden City and the World of Small Animals

Spring 2015 Picture Books
Ages: 4 - 9 yrs.
Author: Brian Tse
Illustrator: Alice Mak
ISBN: 978-0-9893776-2-1
Hardcover Price: $12.95

Baby Bunny is snacking with his friends Baby Squirrel, Young Porcupine, and Little Brother Panda, when the Emperor's chief builder comes to the forest to visit. The builder has been tasked with designing the Forbidden City, meant to be the greatest human palace in the world. To accomplish this, Uncle Builder has decided to research the greatest natural palace in the world-the forest! Uncle Builder explains to the baby animals why the leafy canopies, light-filled groves, majestic tree trunks, and delicate foliage of their own home create an ideal form of architecture that combines practicality and beauty. Explaining each detail of the forest ecology in turn, Uncle Builder demonstrates how he will use the inspiration of the forest to design every detail of the palace, from its hilltop location to the tree-fork brackets that support the walls to the animal sculptures lining the rooftops. Uncle Builder gains the necessary ideas to build the Forbidden City, and the baby animals gain a new appreciation for their own "palace."

Written by Brian Tse and translated to English by Ben Wang, this is a beautiful architectural history for children that relays fascinating information through an engaging story. The book embeds several small but effective design features of its own; for example, a two-page spread incorporates a series of lift-the-flap panels so that children can compare one specific detail of the forest, such as crossed branches and leaves, with a photographic inset of the Forbidden City element inspired by that forest detail (latticework, in this case). Alice Mak's cartoonlike, pastel illustrations seem a bit too sweet for the majesty of the subject matter, but Unlce Builder and the animals are nevertheless appealing. This book is appropriate for a range of audiences, as it touches on multiple interesting subjects: Chinese history, architecture, and ecology.

Naomi Lesley   ©2015 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

Look for this product at:
China Institute in America
China Institute in America

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