On the Run to Ancient China
On the Run to Ancient China
STOP! Don’t read this. It’s top secret! You could be tortured to death just for knowing.
What? Still reading? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The ancient Chinese have been making silk cloth for thousands of years. In all that time, they have been careful never to let the secret of how to make silk leave the country. But if you must know…
Get yourself a whole lot of silkworms (caterpillars of silk moths). For a month or so, feed them mulberry leaves several times a day to make them grow. Eventually, they will be ready to spin cocoons. Each cocoon is made up of a very long single strand of silk (up to 900 m or 3000 ft. long). When the cocoon is finished, drop it into boiling water (bad luck for the worm). The boiling water will make the silk strand unwind. Reel it in and twist it with other strands to make thread. Weave the thread into beautiful, strong, valuable silk cloth.
There! Now you know the secret of silk. ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? (P.S. Papermaking is a secret, too. You must like to live dangerously.)
The Binkerton twins knew better than to go into the Good Times Travel Agency. After all, they’d been there before and had been swept into the past when the owner, Julian T. Pettigrew, opened one of his travel guides. Unfortunately, their little sister Libby smelled the irresistible scent of Chinese fried noodles wafting down the street, and she followed the smell into the shop before her siblings, Josh and Emma, could stop her. Once inside, it was inevitable that one of the guidebooks was opened resulting in the children being stranded in ancient China.
Then the mishaps truly began. While the twins argued about their next steps, Libby wandered away and climbed onto a passing carriage. Now, while Libby travels comfortably with a government official who is captivated by the “charming little barbarian”, the twins experience how the peasants and other workers live as the siblings use the information in the guidebook to help them navigate through ancient China on the trail of their lost sister. Hopefully, they will find Libby and get to the end of the guide before disaster strikes.
On the Run in Ancient China is the third installment in the “Time Travel Guides” series. In each book, the Binkerton twins are transported to a location in the past when one of the travel guides in the Good Times Travel Agency is opened. Once the book opens, the twins and the book remain in the past until the twins read the entire guidebook. Only then are they transported back to the present. Between the covers is a fun romp through an ancient civilization, the romp being broken into digestible, easily understood pieces.
The format of the book is very appealing. The story of the twins’ misadventures unfolds in graphic novel style above the opened pages of the guidebook which provides information about the historical time the twins are experiencing. The guide covers topics such as farming, travel, inventions, and societal and family structures. Teachers will appreciate the many tie-ins to the Social Studies curriculum. Bill Slavin’s humorous illustrations that follow the plot of the story bring to life the chatty informational guide below. An index and additional factual information are included after the story.
On the Run in Ancient China is an updated publication of the 2003 book, Adventures in Ancient China. (https://umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm/vol11/no1/adventuresinancientchina.html )
Jonine Bergen is a librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.