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At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui



by
Christine Liu-Perkins
illustrated by
Sarah S. Brannen

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Charlesbridge
Imprint
Charlesbridge
ISBN
9781580893701

Awards and Honors
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014, Middle-Grade Books; Booklist Editors’ Choice 2014, Nonfiction, Middle Readers; Booklist Lasting Connections 2014, Social Studies; New York Public Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2014, Nonfiction; NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12: 2015
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
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JLG Category

Nonfiction Middle

China: Over two thousand years ago, Lady Dai was buried with her family. In 1972, their tombs were discovered, and Lady Dai’s body was remarkably preserved. Time line of the Qin and early Han dynasties. Glossary. Author’s note. Index. Full-color photographs and watercolor illustrations.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

80

Trim Size

11" x 9"

Dewey

931/.215

AR

7.7: points 2

Lexile

1110L

Genre

Nonfic

Scholastic Reading Counts

6

JLG Release

Aug 2014

Book Genres


Topics

Mawangdui site (China). Archaeology excavations. China. Tombs. Human remains. Treasure troves. Material culture. Chinese history. Changsha antiquities. Han dynasty (202 BC-220 AD).

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Booklist*, The Horn Book Magazine, The Horn Book Guide^, Kirkus Reviews*, School Library Journal

School Library Journal

In 1972, archaeologists made an astonishing find at a site called Mawangdui near Changsha, China. Inside an ornate coffin nested three other elaborate ones, and wrapped in many layers of fine silk lay the body of a woman, buried for over two millennia but whose skin was soft and supple. Buried with her were many treasures, including foodstuffs that, amazingly, looked fresh enough to be eaten upon discovery. More than a year later, two other tombs within the same burial chamber were unearthed—those of the woman’s husband and son, though their remains were far more degraded. In time, the woman was identified as “Lady Dai,” the name by which she is now commonly known, the widow of the Marquis of Dai, a high official during the Han Dynasty. Her story makes for fascinating reading. The writing is accessible, and each of the well-organized chapters delineates all the treasures that were found in Lady Dai’s and her son’s tombs—and how the finds have brought the world of ancient China to vivid, illuminating life. Chapters open with an illustration and an imagined scene written in the present tense—a device the author has used to bring readers directly into Lady Dai’s world. Budding forensic scientists will appreciate the information and pertinent photographs about how the woman’s body was preserved after her death in 158 BCE and about the modern-day autopsy performed on her. The book benefits from handsome design: photographs are of high quality, and illustrations, maps, and diagrams are attractive and helpful. This volume will serve as an interesting browser and as a fine supplementary resource

Horn Book

Late in 1971, workers digging an air-raid shelter in Hunan Province found three tombs of a noble family from early in the Han dynasty. The oldest tomb, of the Marquis of Dai (d. 186 BCE), was plundered long ago. His son’s (d. 168 BCE) retained important artifacts, though it had been damaged during construction of the third tomb, which was virtually intact and of enormous archaeological significance. Here, buried in 158 BCE in a preservative so effective that autopsy was still possible, was the still-soft body of “Lady Dai,” the marquis’s wife, cocooned in twenty layers of silk within four nested coffins; and more than a thousand artifacts—treasures in painted silk, lacquer, brass, and wood. Liu-Perkins describes the discovery in fascinating detail, including the lady’s household appointments, diet, amusements, and death; brief imagined scenes supplement the evidence. Perhaps the most significant find was a “library” of books written on silk and bamboo, safe in a lacquer box in the son’s tomb: fifty texts and documents, many of them unique, concerning science, philosophy, history, and government. Illustrative materials include maps and well-captioned photos as well as Brannen’s watercolors of the imagined scenes. Sidebars, too, supplement and clarify information, as do timelines, a glossary, citations for quotes, an index, and a two-page bibliography. Lady Dai’s remains are of huge interest in their own right; as Liu-Perkins ably demonstrates, such a find not only extends our factual knowledge but also deepens our appreciation of the diversity of past civilizations. joanna rudge long

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

In 1972, archaeologists made an astonishing find at a site called Mawangdui near Changsha, China. Inside an ornate coffin nested three other elaborate ones, and wrapped in many layers of fine silk lay the body of a woman, buried for over two millennia but whose skin was soft and supple. Buried with her were many treasures, including foodstuffs that, amazingly, looked fresh enough to be eaten upon discovery. More than a year later, two other tombs within the same burial chamber were unearthed—those of the woman’s husband and son, though their remains were far more degraded. In time, the woman was identified as “Lady Dai,” the name by which she is now commonly known, the widow of the Marquis of Dai, a high official during the Han Dynasty. Her story makes for fascinating reading. The writing is accessible, and each of the well-organized chapters delineates all the treasures that were found in Lady Dai’s and her son’s tombs—and how the finds have brought the world of ancient China to vivid, illuminating life. Chapters open with an illustration and an imagined scene written in the present tense—a device the author has used to bring readers directly into Lady Dai’s world. Budding forensic scientists will appreciate the information and pertinent photographs about how the woman’s body was preserved after her death in 158 BCE and about the modern-day autopsy performed on her. The book benefits from handsome design: photographs are of high quality, and illustrations, maps, and diagrams are attractive and helpful. This volume will serve as an interesting browser and as a fine supplementary resource

Horn Book

Late in 1971, workers digging an air-raid shelter in Hunan Province found three tombs of a noble family from early in the Han dynasty. The oldest tomb, of the Marquis of Dai (d. 186 BCE), was plundered long ago. His son’s (d. 168 BCE) retained important artifacts, though it had been damaged during construction of the third tomb, which was virtually intact and of enormous archaeological significance. Here, buried in 158 BCE in a preservative so effective that autopsy was still possible, was the still-soft body of “Lady Dai,” the marquis’s wife, cocooned in twenty layers of silk within four nested coffins; and more than a thousand artifacts—treasures in painted silk, lacquer, brass, and wood. Liu-Perkins describes the discovery in fascinating detail, including the lady’s household appointments, diet, amusements, and death; brief imagined scenes supplement the evidence. Perhaps the most significant find was a “library” of books written on silk and bamboo, safe in a lacquer box in the son’s tomb: fifty texts and documents, many of them unique, concerning science, philosophy, history, and government. Illustrative materials include maps and well-captioned photos as well as Brannen’s watercolors of the imagined scenes. Sidebars, too, supplement and clarify information, as do timelines, a glossary, citations for quotes, an index, and a two-page bibliography. Lady Dai’s remains are of huge interest in their own right; as Liu-Perkins ably demonstrates, such a find not only extends our factual knowledge but also deepens our appreciation of the diversity of past civilizations. joanna rudge long

Grades 5-8
Nonfiction Middle
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