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


Booklist Reviews 2014 March #2
*Starred Review* There is quite a good selection of youth titles that deal with archaeological finds, but this well-researched book about a remarkable discovery takes readers somewhere they've never been before: China, 150 years before the time of Christ. Although the two mounds that look like a saddle have been a focal point in the Changsha area of south-central China for more than 2,000 years, it wasn't until 1971 that archaeologists began excavating these ancient tombs, and what they uncovered was astounding. The books made of bamboo, the lacquer dishes, the carved wooden servants--all would have been priceless finds on their own. But there was also a body of a woman so well preserved that her skin was still soft and pliable. During an autopsy, doctors found they could discern her illnesses and what she had had for her last meal! And this was no anonymous woman. Artifacts gave her name and her position: she was Lady Dai, the wife of a high official during the early Han dynasty. Liu-Perkins does an excellent job of making kids care about this discovery (well, the photo of Lady Dai's remains does draw them in). Just as important, she explains a wide variety of topics--silk making and funeral practices, to name a few--easily packing in a great deal more information. Delicate original art juxtaposes well with the many photos of artifacts, making this a handsome as well as an intriguing offering. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Fall
In 1971, the tomb of "Lady Dai" was discovered, virtually intact and of enormous archaeological significance. Here, buried in 158 BCE, was her still-soft body and more than a thousand artifacts. Liu-Perkins describes the discovery in fascinating detail; brief imagined scenes supplement the evidence. Illustrative materials include maps and well-captioned photos as well as Brannen's watercolors of the fictionalized scenes. Timeline. Bib., glos., ind.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2014 #4
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 Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.

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Kirkus Reviews 2014 February #1
Debut author Liu-Perkins' infectious curiosity shines in this exploration of a Han dynasty burial chamber excavated in 1972. The "best preserved body in the world." This honor goes to no ordinary mummy. It belongs to the remains of one Chinese woman known as the Marchioness of Dai, or Lady Dai. Buried beneath two hills called Mawangdui, Lady Dai's tomb held three nobles: the marquis Li Cang, his wife, Lady Dai, and apparently one of their sons. As archaeologists dug through layers of white clay and charcoal, they uncovered more than 3,000 "astonishingly well-preserved" artifacts. Most amazing of all was Lady Dai's body. After being buried for almost 2,200 years, her skin remained moist, her joints were movable, and her finger- and toeprints were still discernible. Other rare finds included an elaborate silk painting called a feiyi and the oldest and largest stash of silk books ever discovered in China. Based on 14 years of extensive research, the author's storytelling is clear, inviting and filled with awe, as if she's right there alongside the dig experts. Fictionalized vignettes of Lady Dai's life that introduce each chapter add charm and perspective. Artifact photographs and illustrations heighten the fascination. In particular, Brannen's illustration of Lady Dai's chamber of multiple, nested coffins demonstrates the creative ingenuity of these ancient embalmers. Move over King Tut. Lady Dai is in the house. (historical note, author's note, glossary, selected bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2014 March

Gr 6-10--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 in units on ancient China.--Carol Goldman, Queens Library, NY

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