Cixi “The Dragon Empress” | Book Review & Activity

Was Cixi an evil empress only concerned with her own power and control, or was she a strong, misunderstood leader? It’s difficult to say what someone was really like once time has passed; it all depends on who writes the history books! This article shares a book review of Cixi “The Dragon Empress”, a nonfiction book for children about Cixi, the Dowager Empress of China. Don’t miss the hands-on activity for kids and downloadable worksheet for parents and educators included below!

Book Review of Cixi “The Dragon Empress”

Cixi “The Dragon Empress” brings to life the horrific and fascinating story of China’s last empress in a bright and beautifully illustrated children’s book.

Book Review of Cixi "The Dragon Empress"
Cover of “Cixi: The Dragon Empress”

Parents and teachers looking for nonfiction, historical books for children will like Cixi “The Dragon Empress”. Because of the nature of the book, kids will likely ask questions, giving ample opportunity for discussion. This book highlights all the awful things Cixi was accused of doing during her reign. Students will enjoy questioning this unforgettable dastardly dame while learning about China’s history and culture.

The writing in this book is easy to follow; it flowed through Cixi’s life at a pace that kept my kids on their toes. The book includes some general information on China and a map showing the different locations Cixi lived in during her lifetime. My only complaint with the layout is the white lettering on the red pages was a hard on my eyes by the end of the book.

Be warned that this book includes dark elements that were a part of Cixi’s history: violence, opium and other mature subjects. Cixi was known to be power-hungry. She exercised that power in nasty ways such as gouging servants with her nails, torturing people by having them stand in the rain, and killing people who threatened her pursuit of ultimate control.

This book depicts the evil things Cixi is thought to have done throughout her life. At the close of the book, the author provides a separate section in which she includes only conclusively verified facts. She compares and contrasts these facts with rumors about Cixi’s life. She highlights the idea that interpretation of history can be a matter of opinion. Yim also notes that contemporary readers may never truly know if the atrocities attributed to Cixi were accurate or if she was falsely accused. While I felt the material was appropriate for my older elementary school-aged children, other children may not be comfortable with the topics covered.

The images in this book were spectacular — brightly colored with real images of items from Chinese history. However I could have done without the splattering of blood in the background on several of the the pages. I feel the history of Cixi is violent enough without the visceral details.

Cixi “The Dragon Empress” is one in a series of seven stories written to highlight some of the more villainous woman in history. If you find this book review of Cixi “The Dragon Empress” intriguing, be sure to check out the other stories on Goosebottom Book’s website.

Title: Cixi “The Dragon Empress”
Author: Natasha Yim
Illustrator: Peter Malone
Grade Level: 3-8
Genre: Biography
Published: Goosebottom Books 2011
Pages: 32
ISBN-10: 0983425655
Rating: 4 out of 5

Hands-On Activity and Free Printable

To give this book some hands on fun, try making some central heeled shoes like Cixi wore.

Shoes inspired by Cixi
Kids can try walking on tuna cans to simulate what it might have been like for Cixi.

Items you will need:

  • 2 unopened tuna cans
  • Hot glue gun
  • 2 long, wide ribbons

Cut two lengths of ribbon about 12 inches long, one ribbon for each shoe. Glue the center of the ribbon to the bottom of the tuna can. With your regular shoes on, place the tuna can in the middle of the sole (bottom) of your shoe. Wrap the ribbon from the tuna can, up over the shoe, and secure it on top of the shoe (tying in a bow works nicely). This will secure the tuna can under your kiddo’s shoe.

Try to balance while taking dainty steps like Cixi did.

We’ve also included this fantastic Cixi “The Dragon Empress” free printable. This is a 10-question test that covers material found in the book. This is a great printable for teachers and parents!

Free Printable: Cixi Reading Questions Worksheet

Cixi Answer Sheet

Multicultural Children’s Book Day

KidLit TV partnered with Multicultural Children’s Book Day to bring our readers this book review of Cixi “The Dragon Empress”. The mission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCCBD) is to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Their mission is for young readers to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of books. You can follow them on their hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media. The co-creators of MCCBD are our friends, Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press.

We’ve joined the Multicultural Children’s Book day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors!

Platinum: Wisdom Tales Press*StoryQuest Books*Lil Libros
Gold: Author Tori Nighthawk*Candlewick Press*Bharat Babies
Silver: Lee and Low Books*Chronicle Books*Capstone Young Readers*Tuttle Publishing*KidLit TV
Bronze: Pomelo Books*Author Jacqueline Woodson*Papa Lemon Books*Goosebottom Books*Author Gleeson Rebello*ShoutMouse Press*Author Mahvash Shahegh* China*Live Oak Media

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has amazing Co-Hosts:

All Done Monkey * Crafty Moms Share * Educators Spin on it * Growing Book by Book * Imagination Soup * I’m Not the Nanny * InCultural Parent * Kid World Citizen * Mama Smiles * Multicultural Kid Blogs * Spanish Playground

Teachers, be sure to check out MCCBD Classroom Reading Challenge. This very special offering from MCCBD offers teachers and classrooms the chance to (very easily) earn a free hardcover multicultural children’s book for their classroom library. These books are not only donated by the Junior Library Guild, but they are pre-screened and approved by them as well.

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