Teen Review–Secrets of the Terra-cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine

secrets of the terra-cotta soldier

Ming is facing a life of continuous hunger and fear.  His father, an archaeologist, is about to fail his job.  Without any major discoveries, the museum directors decide to fire him.  Yet, his father is convinced that Emperor Qin’s ancient tomb is buried near their village.  Soon, Ming gets an artifact from the Gee brothers, a group of three greedy villagers obsessed with making money off this business.  Today, they seemed to have delivered a broken statue made of ancient clay pieces.  As he inspects it, he sees the face twitch, then blink.  Feeling that he is imagining things out of hunger, he realizes everything is about to change when the head starts to talk.  This soldier, made of terra cotta, gives Ming instructions to assemble the pieces into one immense statue.  A blinding light, then the house shakes.  The soldier is complete. Soon, a friendship develops between Ming and the statue.  He hears secrets about his father’s theory: that the Emperor’s tomb is nearby.  Afterwards, the political officer demands that the soldier be handed over.  However, the statue named Shi remains as rigid as a board. It is then placed in the officer’s home.  It overhears the terrible plot of the officer and returns back to Ming with the news.  They both direct each other, and using Shi’s secrets, Ming realizes there is a chance to save both his family and the tomb.

This book was very entertaining and had much suspense.  It was well written, though the use of vocabulary was slightly limited.  It starts without action, and contains more adventure and suspense throughout the middle and end.  The characters are described well, though a few more details would have increased the understanding of the reader.  The character’s personalities are unique and thoroughly described.  There was not much humor, but this factor does not affect the book.  I liked the author’s style of writing, and the situations are filled with useful descriptions.  Overall, I enjoyed this exceptional book and I would recommend this read to someone else.

This book was very enjoyable, yet some sections stand out more.  To me, the most memorable parts of the book are the tales the soldier tells Ming.  These sections have both adventure and suspense, and they include some fact as well.  In addition, the descriptions of how Ming put the soldier together are also memorable.”




Review by Shivram, grade 6, Gayton Library

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