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Tag Archives: history

Zachary Ying doesn’t want to stand out, a difficult task when he’s usually the only Asian kid in his school. He wants to finish summer classes and play Mythrealm, an augmented reality game that blends elements of Pokémon GO and trading card games like Yu-Gi-Oh! with classic mythology. Zack never learned a lot about Chinese myths and history from his mother, who had complicated feelings regarding their homeland. It comes as quite a shock when a Chinese transfer student, Simon Li, introduces himself and explains that Zack’s likely a direct descendent of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. Before he knows what’s happening, the spirit of his ancestor has possessed him, or rather, his portal-lens, the AR headset he wears to play Mythrealm.

Qin Shi Huang is on a mission, and he needs Zack’s body to do it. The long-dead emperor has to seal a portal to the Chinese underworld to prevent all manner of demons and spirits from flooding out into the human world, and the clock is ticking. Zack needs to get to Qin Shi Huang’s tomb in China, and he needs to strengthen the bond between himself and the emperor’s spirit, or his mother’s soul may be devoured. Zack has to learn as much as he can about the Dragon Emperor and his exploits so that he can channel the magic necessary to close the gap between the realms.

Qin Shi Huang isn’t the only dead emperor setting out to save China. Simon is possessed by the spirit of his own ancestor, Tang Taizong, and he’s partnered with Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor, hosted by her own descendent, Melissa Wu. Together, the three kids and their spirit partners navigate an escalating series of heists and battles with mythological figures and monsters. If they fail, China—and the rest of the world—are doomed.

Xiran Jay Zhao has crafted a most excellent middle grade adventure here. They’ve taken some of the best bits of Yu-Gi-Oh! (which I’ve loved since seeing the first episodes land in English back in 2001) and wrapped it in an intense love of Chinese history and myth, with an end result that will satisfy readers of all ages and make the folks at Disney jealous that they didn’t pick this one up for a Rick Riordan Presents title. Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor is fun, fast-paced, and clever. It’s out tomorrow, May 10th.

My thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an eARC in exchange for a fair review.

And my additional thanks to Xiran for their signature on a copy of Iron Widow and a selfie with them back in April!

Selfie of me, Philip (he/they), standing in front of Xiran Jay Zhao (they/them), the author of Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor as well as Iron Widow.

In honor of my state’s birthday, I am going to share with you a few facts about Colorado. (Please note: these facts come from an article by Jerry Kopel, a journalist with the Colorado Statesman and a former state legislator who passed away in January of this year.)

Which state is bigger, Colorado or Wyoming?
If you said Wyoming, you were wrong. Colorado is 6,034 square miles larger than Wyoming. Incidentally, Colorado and Wyoming are the only states having unbroken and almost straight-line boundaries on all sides.
Why does it feel so good to be in Denver (or in the Colorado mountains)?
Normal atmospheric pressure at sea level is 14.7 pounds to the square inch. That is the pressure exerted against the body by the weight, or density, of the atmosphere. The greater the altitude above sea level, the lighter the pressure.
In Denver, the atmospheric pressure is 12.2 pounds to the square inch. Having less pressure against your body is like having a load lifted off your back, which is actually what takes place.
What famous memorial and cemetery back east were built with Colorado Yule Marble?
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery in Virginia. In Denver, the Federal Reserve Bank Building is a good example of Colorado Yule Marble.
This marble, mined on the Yule Creek near the town of Marble in Gunnison County, is white, medium grained, generally banded with pale-brownish streaks and contains angular fragments of chert.
The Colorado state capitol building in Denver was completed one hundred years ago in 1896. What was placed in its cornerstone?
The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1890 by the Masonic Lodge and contained a bible, American flag, Colorado and U.S. constitutions, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, census reports, speeches by government officials, newspapers of July 4th, 1890, and gold and silver coins of all denominations. Denver became the permanent capital of Colorado by territorial legislative law Dec.9, 1867.
How many people lived here around the time Colorado became a state?
In 1870, Colorado had 39,864 residents. By 1890, the population jumped to 194,327. In 1870, the U.S. population was over 38 million, which meant Colorado then held one-tenth of one percent of the nation’s population. Today, Colorado has 3.8 million people.
What is the penalty for picking the state flower, the white and lavender columbine (Columbine Aquilegia, Caerulea) off of public land?
You have committed a MISDEMEANOR, and while you will not go to jail, if convicted, you will pay a fine of not less than $5 nor more than $50.
The columbine became the state flower in 1899 in a statute passed by the 12th General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Charles Thomas on April 4, 1899. From 1899 until 1925, it was okay to pick the flower, but in 1925, the Colorado legislature passed the following:
“It is unlawful for any person to tear the state flower up by the roots when grown or growing upon any state, school, or other public lands or in any public highway or other public place or to pick or gather upon any such public lands or in any such public highway or place more than twenty-five stems, buds, or blossoms of such flower in any one day, and it is also unlawful for any person to pick or gather such flower upon private lands without the consent of the owner thereof first had or obtained.”
The penalty hasn’t been changed in 71 years. Five bucks was a lot of money in 1925. In some hotels today, it will buy you a cup of coffee and a roll.
What well-known Colorado author wrote about the “trickle-down” economic theory forty years before it became famous during the Reagan presidency?
Barron B. Beshoar, Colorado native and author of Out of the Depths, the history of the Ludlow massacre and the insurrection by Colorado miners. In his forward to this 1942 book, Beshoar writes:
“On the one hand, firmly entrenched and in full power and strength, were those who held to the theory that all benefits properly trickle down from above, and on the other were those who devotedly maintained the democratic proposition that men and women who toil with their backs and hands are entitled to share in the fruits of their productive labor.”
When was the first time Colorado participated as a state in a presidential election and whom did we vote for?
It was 1880, and Colorado voted Republican 27,450 to 24,647 for James A. Garfield. President Garfield died in office at age 49, having served from March 4 to Sept. 19, 1881. He was succeeded by Chester A. Arthur.
What party dominated the first statewide elections and who got the nod?
The Republicans in 1876. All of the following were Republicans: John L. Routt, first state governor; James B. Belford, first congressman; Henry M. Teller and Jerome B. Chaffee, first U.S. senators; William M. Clark, first secretary of state; George C. Corning, first state treasurer; David C. Crawford, first state auditor; and A.J.Sampson, first attorney general.
Who was Lafayette Head?
A Republican, Lafayette Head was the first lieutenant governor of the state of Colorado. Since 1876, no other state official ever elected in Colorado has had the first name, Lafayette.
There’s your Colorado history lesson for the day. Happy birthday, Colorado!