A superb snapshot of an adventurer.



Pizzoli resurrects an early-20th-century mystery in this riveting portrait of Percy Fawcett, a renowned British explorer who vanished during an ill-fated hunt for a “lost” city.

Shortly following an early life of military service to the British Empire, Fawcett dived deep into a career of adventuring. He trained for a year with the Royal Geographical Society, a prominent research center based in London, before the organization began to send him out on expeditions into South America between the years of 1906 and 1924. Pizzoli devotes the first half of Fawcett’s tale to building the latter’s legend, expertly drawing from Fawcett’s thrilling brushes with wildlife and local populations to bring to life the formidable explorer. (An encounter involving a giant anaconda is presented via minimalist illustrations both terrifying and brilliant in scope.) Throughout his various research excursions, Fawcett heard tales of a mythical city deep in the Amazon rain forest. Naming the city “Z,” Fawcett soon embarked on what turned out to be his final known expedition, and his subsequent disappearance went on to capture the public’s imagination. As in the author’s previous gem (Tricky Vic, 2015), the strikingly matte, mixed-media pictures ooze personality and perfectly complement the succinct text and informational sidebars. Predictably, Fawcett’s story features a cast of light-skinned characters, with a few brown-skinned individuals included to represent the invisible local populations; his failure to “conquer” in the end represents a fascinating twist on the usual narrative of imperialism.

A superb snapshot of an adventurer. (author’s note, appendix, glossary, selected sources) (Picture book/biography. 7-12)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-670-01653-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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An empowering choice.


Shamir and Faulkner take readers on a trip through various moments in U.S. history as they explore the democratic process.

The text begins in 1884, when a young man rides for hours to deliver his local ballot box in the state of Nebraska. The book then jumps in nonlinear fashion from key moment to key moment, explaining its importance: Native Americans were granted citizenship in 1924 (their status as members of sovereign nations goes unmentioned); the emergency number 911 was created in 1968; George Washington was the only presidential candidate ever to run unopposed. The information is divided into general paragraphs that begin with a question and text boxes that supply trivia and provide additional context to the paragraphs. Children’s and teens’ roles are often cited, such as their participation in the civil rights movement and the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18. The information ranges from national elections to local, expanding on what can be done on a national level and what can occur locally. Along the way, Faulkner includes a diverse mixture of citizens. A range of ethnic groups, minorities, and people of various body sizes and abilities are included, making the book visually welcoming to all readers. An early image depicting a blind woman with both guide dog and cane appears to be the only visual misstep. The backmatter includes a timeline and sources for additional reading.

An empowering choice. (Informational picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3807-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.


In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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