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Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  113 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
  In this action-packed adventure and coming-of-age story that finely weaves fact and fiction, thirteen-year-old Ming lives in a small village in Maoist China in the 1970s. His father is convinced that Emperor Qin’s tomb—and the life-size terra-cotta army created to serve and protect the emperor in the afterlife—lies hidden in the hills around them. But if Ming’s father ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Harry N. Abrams
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Barb Middleton
Feb 13, 2015 Barb Middleton rated it really liked it
Diverse books are necessary to understanding different cultures; yet there are not oodles of choices out there. Some of my favorite multicultural books are written by those that grew up in the culture providing a unique and authentic perspective. Sometimes the books are hard to get from publishers such as Tim Tingle's book, "How I Became a Ghost," that captures the Native American storytelling and cultural mysticism. Kwame Alexander's Newbery medal book, "The Crossover," captures African ...more
Ms. Yingling
Dec 15, 2013 Ms. Yingling rated it it was amazing
E ARC from Netgalley.

Ming's father is the local director of antiquities in Red Star for the Maoist government in the 1970s, but the department may soon be closed down. While his father is in the city dealing with this, Ming has villagers show up at his door with a "treasure", demanding payment. Used to their tactics, Ming issues a receipt but keeps the broken soldier figurine. To his surprise, the head starts to talk to him, telling him he is a soldier named Shi in Emperor Qin's army. Ming mana
Blending fantasy, history, and adventure, this book provides readers a glimpse into China's past and present. While his archaeologist father is away, Ming, a thirteen-year-old boy, must keep at bay the thieves who want to steal the nation's treasures. His father is convinced that the celebrated tomb of Emperor Qin is somewhere near their village, and he seeks to persuade the authorities to allow him to keep working. When a terra-cotta soldier turns up and comes to life, Ming and Shi become ...more
Dec 26, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. I thought it was very good because there was a lot of action and suspense. I also like how Ming, the main character, had a mind of his own and was slightly naughty; it added to the story. I also liked the book because it had a good ending. (No, not a spoiler) What's more, I liked how every single character in the book had a part in the story/plot.
I would recommend it to anyone.
Shanshad Whelan
Mar 30, 2014 Shanshad Whelan rated it really liked it
Originally posted at Views from the Tesseract:

It’s still pretty hard to find children’s historical fiction set in China. Rarer still to find books set in the 1970s, in Maoist China. Make that story a historical fantasy, and this may well be the only title to match.

Thirteen-year-old Ming lives in a small village in rural China with his father, the local director of antiquities. Ming’s father is charged with finding ancient artifacts and sending them on to
A REEEEEEAAAALLLYYY good book about China, the Cultural Revolution, and the Terra-Cotta Warriors.
Wayne S.
May 05, 2014 Wayne S. rated it it was amazing
It is around 1974, and thirteen-year-old Ming, whose mother has died, lives in the small, remote Maoist Chinese village of Red Star. His father Chen, an intellectual who has been demoted by Mao, is an archaeologist with the museum in Xi’an. Chen believes that the tomb of the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huang who built the Great Wall, with its life-size terra-cotta army created to serve and protect the emperor in the afterlife, lies hidden in the hills around them, though he has no actual ...more
Nov 02, 2013 Suz rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-kid-lit, netgalley
Ying Compestine has written the story of what it must have felt like to discover the army of terra-cotta soldiers in Emperor Qin's tomb. (You may have seen the terra-cotta soldiers in the second Tomb Raider movie.) She and her son (co-author Vinson) became interested in the tomb after a trip to Xian where they visited the Terra-Cotta Museum and talked with one of the farmers who found the first terra-cotta soldiers. The setting of the story is similar to what Ying experienced growing up in China ...more
Brandy Painter
This is an action-adventure tale that is both historical fiction and fantasy. Taking place during the Cultural Revolution in China, it tells the story of the unearthing of the Terra-Cotta soldiers protecting the tomb of Emperor Qin. Co-author Ying Chang Compestine grew up in China during this time and brings her real life experiences to life in the tale of Ming. I really appreciated this part of the story. The fantasy element comes in when the first soldier found, Shi, comes to life and tells ...more
Peggy Harkins
Sep 13, 2016 Peggy Harkins rated it it was ok
Book felt slow to me. However, it matches up nicely with the nonfiction book about the Terra Cotta Warriors.
Kate  K. F.
May 13, 2014 Kate K. F. rated it it was amazing
I picked up my ARC at the publisher's booth at ALA Midwinter 2014 and have been meaning to read it and the #weneeddiversebooks campaign gave me the push I needed. The story is deceptively simple, in the countryside of China during the Cultural Revolution, Ming lives with his father the archaeology officer and try to stay safe. Not much has been found and Ming's father goes to Xian to get more support when a couple of farmers find a broken terracotta statue. They bring it to Ming and then the ...more
Sep 13, 2016 Melodie rated it really liked it
I requested this ARC from Netgalley for two reasons - one, my daughter heads to China for an eighth-grade class trip this spring and I wanted her to get a little cultural background with some light reading; and two - I'm a teacher always looking for said cultural background/light reading.

I got both with this novel. With the plot device of a talking terra cotta soldier, MC Ming learns the history of the statues, while enduring the deprivations and challenges of living in 1970s rural communist Chi
Wanted to like this book as much as the others on goodreads did, but the talking Terra-Cotta soldier didn't do much for me. I thought this book was trying to do too many things--action adventure, fantasy, historical expository. It felt too disjointed. I did learn some history about Mao and Qin which will make me plug it in the spring. Would be great when the 6th graders do their Ancient China study on Emperor Qin and there is good info about living during the Cultural Revolution. I think some ...more
I could not put this books down - and absolutely loved it! As Kirkus Review describes it so fittingly, it is a great mix of Indiana-Jones-like adventure and historical fiction, accompanied by numerous black and white historical photographs. Very engaging and at the same time informative about life during two very different time periods in Chinese history: China under Mao and China during the Qin Dynasty. Further, I enjoyed to read that this books was a collaboration between the author and her ...more
Sep 11, 2015 Yapha rated it liked it
Ming is a 13-year-old boy growing up in China in the 1970s. He and his father, an intellectual, have been sent to a remote farming village for "re-education." Some of the farmers unearth a terra-cota soldier from the 200s BCE. Ming is startled when the statue comes to life and begins telling stories about his life under Emperor Qin. They work together to stop the plot of a greedy Political Officer. A fascinating look at China as ruled by two dictators thousands of years apart. Includes ...more
Jun 14, 2014 Katherine rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story of a young boy (MIng) meeting a terracotta warrior (Shi) come to life. Set during in China during the cultural revolution period the book compares life under the first Emperor Qin and Mao Zedong with an engaging adventure story. I learnt about the building of the Great Wall and the efforts made to repel Mongol invaders from China as well as about life in China in the crazy 1970's. The text is enlivened with photos, recipes and historical information. It was ...more
Paula Soper
Apr 28, 2016 Paula Soper rated it liked it
Shelves: tween, 2016
I went to a exhibit of some terracotta warriors many years ago. Therefore, when I saw this title, I wanted to read the book. Again, it has some fantasy in it, as well as a bit of mystery. Yeah, I know. I'm predictable.

This would be another good novel to read while students are studying about China (in History) or for students who are interested in other cultures, a bit of fantasy, or a quick read.

Drugs: No
Sex: No
R&R: A small earthquake?
Violence: No
Language: No
Sep 23, 2014 Kate rated it liked it
I wanted so much from this book - it seemed so perfect for social studies tie-in and who can resist the terracotta warriors? But alas, the 1970s boy and the living statue were both stiff. The story is pretty good but I wanted more fluid writing and more characterization. The parts about the tomb are fascinating. Tolerable for schoolwork but sadly not as cool as it sounded. I hope the authors will do more, I think their work will improve in another book or two!
Jul 25, 2015 ananka rated it liked it
Interesting mixture of history and supernatural/historical-fiction--a terra-cotta soldier from Emperor Qin's tomb comes alive for a boy in communist China. Sometimes it tried too hard to teach and lost me as a reader. I was dedicated to finishing though and it was a quick read, so I muddled through. I think children ages 6-11 might like it if they are into non-fiction and not against reading a supernatural historical fiction book.
Arlo Evans
Mar 05, 2015 Arlo Evans rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it had many exciting parts to it along with some boring ones too. The story to the book was really good. It has a very cool plot along with characters. I would recommend this book to any one who is looking for a good fiction book. This is the book for you. Over all i thought this book was a very okay book.
Alek Teplicki
Dec 04, 2014 Alek Teplicki rated it really liked it
This book was a great easy read. It provided a good character base and a nice plot. the book first introduces us to a boy that lives in a village in china with his dad who is an archaeologist. They receive a clay soldier who talks to the boy. The story from that point is the stories that she told.
Interesting setting and fantasy elements, but I found the writing style stiff and unappealing. Here's my blog post.
Tom Metz
Apr 22, 2014 Tom Metz rated it it was amazing
Historical adventure for young adults, set during China's cultural Revolution. I liked it for the vividly reconstructed history. Younger people may like it for a well-conceived and identifiable young hero thrust into fast-moving historical events larger than himself.
Thanks to Abrams for the ARC at ALA Midwinter.

Solid action and interesting history elements. More plot-driven than character-driven. Entertaining but pacing is slow at points. Enjoyed the author notes and interview at the end. Solid but not great.
Feb 17, 2014 Rae rated it liked it
This was cute and good for getting kids interested in Chinese history. I liked the magical touch surrounding the mystery of the Emperor's tomb, and the main character was pretty likable too.
Kristin Mcateer
Nov 11, 2015 Kristin Mcateer rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing story. I live in Xi'an and it was exciting to read about the discovery of the Terra-Cotta Warriors.
Feb 01, 2014 Kevin rated it it was amazing
I love this book. The Terra-Cotta Soldiers have always fascinated me. Although I did not understand some of the history and politics in the book it did not take away from it being a very good book.
Julia Chambers
Jul 01, 2015 Julia Chambers rated it liked it
Indiana Jones meets Terra Cotta warriors in this fantasy that mixes two historical periods in China's history.
Summer Turner
Dec 31, 2014 Summer Turner rated it really liked it
Very intriguing book with a very interesting premise (Cold War China meets Qin Dynasty). Great for history buffs!
Great for middle schoolers. No language or sex. A little bit of violence.
Madeleine McLaughlin
Easy to read, accessible story about a terra-cotta soldier who comes to life. Set in the Mao era in China this is a good story for kids of about eleven and up. Nice read, can finish in one day.
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Ying Chang Compestine was born and raised in China. The spokesperson for Nestle Maggi Taste of Asia products and a national authority on Chinese cuisine and culture, she is the author of three cookbooks for adults, eight picture books for children, and one young adult novel. She lives in California with her family.
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