The Chinese Thought of It: Amazing Inventions and Innovations (Jobs in History)

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9781554511952: The Chinese Thought of It: Amazing Inventions and Innovations (Jobs in History)
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Acupuncture, gun powder and the secrets to spinning silk are innovations that we have come to associate with China. But did you know that the Chinese also invented the umbrella? And toilet paper, initially made from rice straw clumped together, was first used in China! Through the ages, the Chinese have used the resources available to them to improve their lives. Their development of the compass and the paddleboat helped facilitate the often difficult tasks of travel and trade, and many foods associated with health and wellness from green tea to tofu have their origins in China. Other interesting innovations include the suspension bridge the wheelbarrow playing cards With descriptive photos and information-packed text divided into sections including farming, food and games, this third book in the Thought of It’ series explores the fascinating origins of much that surrounds us today.

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About the Author:

Ting-xing Ye was born in Shanghai and moved to Toronto in 1987. The author of the best-selling memoir A Leaf in the Bitter Wind, she also writes young adult fiction and non-fiction. She lives north of Toronto.

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Excerpt

Huan ying, Welcome

Qian-li-zhi-xing, shi-yu-zu-xia.
Even the longest journey begins with the first step.

I welcome you on this journey to discover the amazing inventions and innovations of ancient China. You probably guessed from my name that I am Chinese. I was born and raised in Shanghai, where I lived for many years before I came to Canada. When I was a kid, I went to school like you. I learned to read, write, and do arithmetic. Later on, I took on History, Geography, Science, and other subjects.

I studied English at Beijing University. My second language helped me understand the world better. After graduation, I worked as an English interpreter for many years. During that time I met many leaders from other countries, including members of the Canadian Parliament and the American Congress.

I thought I knew a lot about China's past and present. It wasn't until I sat down to write this book that I realized I had much more to learn. As I got deeper into my research, reading books and checking Internet resources, I grew more and more excited about my findings. I am glad I have the chance to share with you what I have learned. I hope this book will be the beginning of your own journey of discovery. Now, let's take the first step together.

China is the third largest country in the world, after Canada and Russia. In the north is a great plain. To the south are rivers, lakes, and lowlands. In the west are mountains. China's two great rivers, the Long River, or Yangtze, and the Yellow River are among the longest in the world.

Some of ancient China's famous inventions are still used today, in China and around the world. Many of them have been improved; many remain the same.

When I was a teenager, the Chinese government forced millions of people my age to go and live in the countryside. At sixteen, I was sent to work on a farm far from home. The main crop there was rice. Each spring we used iron plows pulled by water buffalo to turn up the hardened earth before the fields were flooded to make paddies. Later, I and other teenagers hand-planted rice seedlings in straight rows, following an ancient method I describe in this book. The grid we formed made weeding and harvesting a lot easier and more efficient.

On the farm, the wheelbarrow was one of our main transportation tools. We used it to haul bricks, bags of grain and fertilizer, and once even a newborn calf. I learned from experience that wheelbarrows with longer handles were easier to control and required less strength when pushing a heavy load. That was a good thing because I was a small and light young woman at that time. My farm-mates and I fondly called our wheelbarrows "wooden oxen." Apart from the iron plow and wheelbarrow, my research brought back even more memories: the type of yokes and harnesses placed on the farm animals, the hoes we used in the vegetable garden, and the herbal medicine we were given at the village clinic. All these things were invented by the ancient Chinese. All are still very useful.

I hope you will find your journey of discovery interesting. Enjoy your trip.

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