Did you know . . .

One of my favourite things about doing research for books is finding out so many fascinating facts. I thought I'd share a few of my favourites . . .


Biang biang noodles - just like the ones that Cleo and Ryan eat at Aunty Ting's restaurant -  are a speciality of Shaanxi province. The Chinese character for 'biang' is said to be the most complicated one to write in the whole language. It has 62 strokes and contains horse, moon, knife and heart.

You can find out more about the amazing character, biang, why it might be something that Homer Simpson would say, and even enter a competition to send in your own version of the character here on the China Simplified website.

Some say that these noodles go back to the time of the First Emperor. Others think that they were invented much more recently by a noodle restaurant!

(Credit: China Simplified)

If you would like to meet a Chinese Giant Salamander just like the one that Ryan encounters on Mount Li, just go along to London Zoo. Nineteen-year old Professor Wu, the salamander, arrived in 2014. He's the only one in Britain.

Chinese Giant Salamanders are the largest living amphibians and they are also one of the most endangered in the wild. They can reach 1.8 metres long. They are often called Baby Fish in Chinese, because of the sound of their cry. Don't be deceived though, the males can be fierce!

You can find a video about them on the London Zoo website here.

Professor Wu

You don't have to go all the way to Egypt to see some wonderful Ancient Egyptian relics and Ancient Egyptian inspired art and archictecture?  Have a look at this great feature on The Londonist website and find out where in London you can see sphinxes, mummies and obelisks. The British Museum and Cleopatra's Needle might be the most famous, but there are plenty of other less well-known places . . . .

You can learn a lot about Egypt by listening to the radio - BBC Radio 4's In Our Time programme has fascinating discussions of The Book of the Dead and Pharaoh Akhenaten among other topics.

Would you like . . .
photo from www.theteatalk.com
to find out how to make delicious Egyptian karkade, just like Cleo drinks at the picnic in the banana grove? If so, have a look at the video on this website for instructions. If you're feeling inspired to try out some recipes for the other Egyptian dishes in The Phoenix Code, there are lots more recipes here on Dyna's Egyptian Cooking.

Did you know . . .
 . . . that people weren't the only ones to be mummified in Ancient Egypt. Animals were mummified too - most commonly cats, birds, crocodiles and snakes. A few weeks ago I went to Liverpool to visit a school and while I was there I had a look around the World Museum. In the Ancient Egypt section I came across this fascinating display of animal mummies.

 Can you guess which animal is mummified inside exhibit 15?

I thought the face looked a little like a pig but I was wrong.

Why do you think people mummified animals?

To find out more, you could read this blog post on the Liverpool Museum website

And if you want to know what happened when nine tonnes of mummified cats were delievered to Liverpool in 1890 you can find out here.

(Before you go to the web page, see if you can guess. It might give you some great ideas for a spooky story.)

Did you know . . . that August 17th is Archaeology Day. There are some great ideas on this blog for activities to celebrate - on any day of the year - including reading a book like The Phoenix Code! I especially like the idea for the archaeology cake - complete with a buried skeleton!

photo from Stay At Home Territory Blog

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