Thursday, January 7, 2010


By Kevin Hodgson
Staff Writer

I was so excited to get this book, which is part of a new series just put out by Capstone Press that focuses in on great moments in history through the exploits of the main character, Isabel Soto. This series of adventures is closely related to the Max Axiom series, which centers on science. In BUILDING THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA, Soto uses her magical technology device to transport herself, and a young friend, to the times in China when the Great Wall was being built to keep the invading Mongols out. There is plenty of adventure on these pages written by author Terry Collins, particularly when Soto must rescue her guest as he starts to fall off the wall even as the structure is being pounded by invaders using catapults.

Along the way, crucial and intriguing bits of history of the Great Wall of China emerge – sometimes as part of the story itself and sometimes as quick diversions to the main story. The end result is the reader has a strong female character to root for while learning about important elements of history (and even dispelling some of the myths that surround the Great Wall).

The artwork by Joe Staton and Al Milgrom is perfectly suited to the story. The frames show a lot of high action and adventure as Soto jumps back in forth in time from present day to the past, when the wall was under construction and then under attack.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Format: Reinforced Library Binding
Pages: 32 pages
Publisher: Capstone Press’ Graphic Library
ISBN-10: 1429634111
ISBN-13: 978-1429634113

This book, as well as the other Isabel Soto graphic novels, could find a nice place in a history curriculum. The story is engaging and educational. I did like that the book also includes two pages of historical facts about the Great Wall of China. The book also contains an important glossary of terms that may be out of the vocabulary range of some readers as well as a list of more books on the topic. I do wish that the quick fictional biography of Isabel Soto was at the start of the book, not the back, so that kids could know who she is and why she is traveling through time to different historical periods.

I would highly recommend this book for any upper elementary, middle and most high school classrooms, although the reading level is more attuned to middle school readers. It is an informative and engaging book. There is nothing inappropriate in here.

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