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Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem About China
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Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem About China

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  125 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Ed Young's spare prose, as lovely as a rice-paper painting, describes in measured detail the beautiful and mystical land that the author so clearly loves. The unique format and gorgeous paper-collage illustrations, highlighted with Chinese characters, combine to convey the many facets of China to form a poetic picture of the lands grace, depth, and majesty.
Hardcover, 36 pages
Published August 25th 2005 by Chronicle Books
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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  125 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Beyond the great mountains/ Ed Young/
Genre: fiction, folktale
Format: picture book
Plot Summary: Lyrical text and illustrations featuring Chinese characters and paper collage introduce the beauty and richness of China.
Considerations: no red flags
Review Citation: School Library Journal; October 2005, Vol. 51 Issue 10, p196-196, 1p
Selection Source: Ed Young bibliography
Recommended age: 7-10
NS - Cami Houston
Appropriate 3-5th grade-This flip book has pictures that take you right to China. Each one of them, misty, water colored, haunting. They speak to you about what natural resources have come to the world through the birthplace of China, or can be found there now such as jade, hemp, and bamboo. Take a trip to the mountains of China in this fabulous book.
Amy Layton
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
This book easily gets 5 stars for the design. I mean, we all know that Ed Young is an incredible illustrator, but the design truly is impeccable. Not only is this a visual poem, but each flap–that’s right, flaps, not pages–reveals a new line as well as an illustration based on the line’s Chinese character translation of the most important word. It’s such a beautiful way to interweave languages together, and it truly succeeds in doing so.

Review cross-listed here!
Sue Doherty
Beautifully done! Each line of the poem is illustrated on a fold-out page, with several ancient Chinese characters for words that appear in the line broken up so the reader can see how the characters relate to the words they represent. The back of the book compares the ancient characters to modern day. A great book for poetry, language, or cultural studies.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved the way the author described a place he obviously loves--China. The illustrations of cut or torn paper(paper collage) are beautifully done. The poem can be seen as soon as you open the cover. It is a sideways book. The illustrations are seen as you lift up each line.
My 6 yr old wasn't really interested but I thought it was a beautiful book. Illustrations are beautiful, format unique.
Oct 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Gorgeous book! great for sharing Chinese cultural aspects, especially Chinese writing. Is a "visual poem" with lovely collage illustrations and great prose. Is a unique format, and would be fun to use to talk about what aspects make a book. Would also be good to use when talking about letters and the origin of Chinese letters.

Chinese American Libraries Association (CALA) Best Illustrated Book Award
Children's Book Sense Pick
IRA Teachers' Choices 2006
PBS Teacher Source, Recommended Books in Soc
Emily Mateos
Nov 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Grade/interest level: Upper elementary (4th-5th grade)
Reading level: None available
Genre: Poetry, multicultural (Chinese symbols), Picture book, Information book

Main Characters: No real main characters
Setting: Middle empire China
POV: 3rd person narrating the poem

This is a very short poem with great imagery in its pictures and use of Chinese symbols. The poem describes the various features of China including its rice fields, bamboo, hemp, and mountains with an every present mist hiding the valle
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Absolutely beautiful!!
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: elementary
A visual poem about China in which Ed Young describes China in such a way as to make you love it. Each page is slightly longer in length, giving the appearance of stairsteps or deeper knowledge. The illustrations look like rice paper collages with watercolors of Chinese script. According to the last few pages, the script used are actually ancient Chinese characters. But there is also a guide to the modern characters and a little history of how the characters have changed. The texture is so vivid ...more
Shaeley Santiago
Incorporating old Chinese characters within a poem, this book tells a Chinese creation-type story. The pages are layered so that when you first open the book (up and down orientation), you see the entire poem on the stair-step strips at the bottom of the page. Then illustrations reveal the connection between the words of the poem and the Chinese characters represented.

I wish I had come across this book before our World Studies class read about China being the Middle Kingdom because that's exact
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
A visual poem honoring the author's homeland of China. The book reads vertically with each page being a little larger than the one before it. The lyrical text appears at the bottom of each page alongside Chinese characters. Paper cut collage illustrations support the essence of the words.

An author's note, and a list of Chinese characters then and now is also included.

In one word: fascinating.
Dec 20, 2011 rated it liked it
In the Author's note, Young states that he is trying to create the poetic notion of "visual verse." He certainly achieves this through his simplistic paper collages; he is representing a line of poetry in one picture. The book includes chinese symbols which can represent a whole idea in one character. I also like that you get the entire poem when you open the book, but you must flip the pages to see each image grow.
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit
Ed Young with rice paper yields magic, in this case as he crafts each illustration around an ancient Chinese character or two, accompanied by a poem that stretches the length of the book (on pages of increasingly larger size. You have to see and take this one in to appreciate it. The book design adds a nice touch, resulting in another expression of Young's affection for the country of his birth.
Linh Tong
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture, poetry, china
This is a poem that describes China. It talks about the beautiful setting including the mountains and the rivers. One of the good phrases in the book is “In winter’s ice, summer’s fire, more plants flourished." The language is very descriptive and it elicits emotions from the reader. The reader can picture the background while reading the poem. The drawings include a variety of colors which makes the reader more interested in the book. I would use this book when we talk about poetry or China.
Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this poem about the Great Mountains of china. I love the beautiful collage illustrations and I love the format where each page is a little longer than the last, so that you can actually read the whole poem as you open the front cover...but you have to flip page by page to see the amazing artwork. What a lovely book!
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Disappointing, though I liked the different orientation of the text. The poem didn't do much for me, and with the exception of one picture, of birds perched on branches with the sun behind them, the pictures didn't do much either. I ususally like Ed Young's books, but this one wasn't the greatest.
Dec 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: teachers
Recommended to Relyn by: Ed Young
Shelves: lawsonland
As far as content, this was not my favorite book. When judged on book layout, I love this book. It is designed as a stair-step poetry book, and it is tactile and fabulous.

Classroom Connections
- lessons on book layout for our writer's workshop
- as a template for a book poem in our poetry unit
- part of a multi-cultural unit on China
What a gorgeous book! I love how Ed Young's illustrations show the meaning of the old Chinese character. A beautiful poem (even if it is a bit on the abstract side), lovely illustrations on rice paper, and I love the use of Chinese characters (both old and new).
Christopher Obert
Feb 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2009
A beautiful piece of art! The book speaks to both the mind and the eye. It words speak to you as the images express the texture. An attractive combination of color and printed word, worthy of reading and looking at!
Jun 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is a beautiful and unique book. After reading the author's note, it's great to read it again.
I'd be interested in hearing comments from people who have read this to their young children/grandchildren.
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
The illustrations are lovely and the text is ok - you wont learn much about China but its an interesting read from a poetic standpoint. The book's format is unique, too, which is fun. It would be a good idea to read the author's note before you read the book.
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Gorgeous concept and presentation
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
LOVED the format of the book and the lesson in Chinese!
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A visual poem indeed! Prolific Ed Young writes about the China he loves, illustrating each line with Chinese characters and collages. Ed Young is such a dynamic writer and illustrator.
Oct 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teaching
There are really no words but the text itself to describe this poetry. A wonderful way to introduce children to poetic innovation and convention all at once. Took me outside myself.
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
The art is good. The format is fantastic. The poem is meh for me.
Apr 20, 2012 rated it liked it
The simplistic beauty of this book shows the character of China. I also love that the book opens vertically rather than horizontally.
Tiffany Chan
Really interesting way of illustrating the way that Chinese characters are so pictorial. Very clever, and beautiful textures, colors, and compositions as always.
Sonia Allison
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
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Ed Young is the illustrator of more than eighty books for children, seventeen of which he has also written. Among his books is the Caldecott Medal winner Lon Po Po, which he both wrote and illustrated. He says that his work is inspired by the philosophy of Chinese painting. He lives in Westchester County, New York.