The Maestros continue their “American Story” series with a lucid, opinionated account of the American Revolution, from the end of the French and Indian Wars to George Washington’s resignation as Commander-in-Chief. Though the small figures in Guilio’s illustrations give the events he depicts a certain distance, Betsy’s narrative more than compensates, with lines like “Throughout the fall and winter, Greene and Cornwallis chased each other’s tails,” and pointed bashing of a Continental Congress that repeatedly dragged its feet when it came to keeping its army supplied. Standing out from similar histories for its inclusion of less familiar figures—William Dawes, who rode with Paul Revere; John Glover, whose boats saved Washington’s bacon during the Battle of Long Island; banker Haym Salomon, and others—along with appended discussions of the contributions of blacks, women and Native Americans to the struggle, this merits a place alongside Benson Bobrick’s more dramatically illustrated Fight For Freedom: The American Revolutionary War (2004). (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-688-08802-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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A visually striking and spirited but extremely brief look at the lead up to the Han dynasty.


Two kingdoms battle for control in ancient China.

Approximately 2,000 years ago, China was divided into many warlord-led kingdoms after the fall of the Qin Empire. Two kingdoms emerged as formidable forces: the Chu Kingdom and the Han Kingdom. Years of fighting erupt when the Han Kingdom, ruled by Liu Bang, attacks. Xiang Yu, the Chu Kingdom’s ruler, furiously leads his troops against Liu Bang’s army, but the latter’s superior tactics exhaust the Chu forces. Numbers dwindle, and emotions are tested. In the face of the impending Han victory, Xiang Yu resolutely takes his last stand. The text is sparing with dates and specific locations, and readers will need to pursue other resources for historical context and timeline information. Yu, however, effectively presents a weighty account of the power struggle, particularly Xiang Yu’s “fearless[ness]” in defeat. Illustrations capture the intensity of battle strategy as double-page spreads engulf readers in the action. Faces and body language are expressive, and perspective and angle often highlight the emotional toll of battle. Yu’s illustrations appear to combine traditional paper-cutting techniques with watercolor and ink painting. Occasional elements, such as a crane and tree branches, break the confines of panels.

A visually striking and spirited but extremely brief look at the lead up to the Han dynasty. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6938-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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With characteristic horror vacui, Harness packs verbal and visual information into each teeming, full-bleed spread, sending a young museum-goer and his eccentric great aunt on a quick trip back to Ancient Egypt for tours of the Step and Great Pyramid, plus glimpses of city and rural life, writing, religion, and embalmers at work. Above a running timeline that names nearly all of the Pharaohs from Scorpion to the last Ptolemy (then fast-forwards to the Muslim conquest, and concludes with a worldwide map/chronology), she places explanatory captions near, next to, or often directly atop jumbles of small painted scenes or figures. Despite some spreads with number keys, the resulting super-dense, multilayered presentation may bewilder readers accustomed to linear exposition—but will reward browsers, lingerers, and flippers back-and-forth with a mother lode of facts and history. The thin plot line adds at least a sense of forward momentum to this flashy interest-builder. (bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-83478-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

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