A superb snapshot of an adventurer.

THE QUEST FOR Z

THE TRUE STORY OF EXPLORER PERCY FAWCETT AND A LOST CITY IN THE AMAZON

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

OIL

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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Involving from "the end of my lovely world" to the end of exile (when the Rudomins, as Jews, were jeered in Poland), this is...

THE ENDLESS STEPPE

GROWING UP IN SIBERIA

To Esther Rudomin at eleven Siberia meant the metaphor: isolation, criminals and cruel punishment, snow and wolves; but even in Siberia there is satisfaction from making a friend of a prickly classmate, from seeing a Deanna Durbin movie four times, from earning and studying and eventually belonging.

Especially in Siberia, where not wolves but hunger and dirt and cold are endemic, where shabbiness and overcrowding are taken for granted, where unselfishness is exceptional. At the heart of Mrs. Hautzig's memoir of four years as a Polish deportee in Russia during World War II is not only hardihood and adaptability but uniquely a girl like any other. Abruptly seized in their comfortable home in Vilna, Esther and her family, are shipped in cattle cars to Rubtsovsk in the Altai Territory, work as slave laborers in a gypsum mine until amnesty, then are "permitted" lobs and lodging in the village--if someone will take them in. After sleeping on the floor, a wooden platform is very welcome; after sharing a room with two other families, a separate dung hut seems a homestead. Then Esther goes to school, the greatest boon, and, to her mother's horror, wants to be like the Siberians....Deprivation does not make Esther grim: the saddest day of her life is her father's departure for a labor brigade at the front, her sharpest bitterness is for the bland viciousness of individuals.

Involving from "the end of my lovely world" to the end of exile (when the Rudomins, as Jews, were jeered in Poland), this is a beautiful book with no bar to wide acceptance (and a rich non-juvenile jacket by Nonny Hogrogian). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 15, 1968

ISBN: 978-0-06-447027-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: T.Y. Crowell

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1968

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