Pick of the picture books: The Timeline History of China by Meredith MacArdle

Worth Press, £20
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The Independent Culture

While the Terracotta Army is still marching its ineluctable way through the British Museum (the exhibition goes on all spring) it might be worthwhile to read Meredith MacArdle's The Timeline History of China before even starting on some of the more meticulous guides to the period. These straightforward and mercifully unpatronising books (a Timeline History of Ancient Egypt was published alongside it) are designed for "readers of all ages" – plain enough to help children put everything into context while reminding any adults who may temporarily have forgotten their Chinese political history. Maps and timelines are a helpful steer around the meaning of images such as this painting (right) of a woman on a balcony.