Glitches notwithstanding, this is worth a second look

ANCIENT WARRIORS

Beginning in the Bronze Age, readers will take an international trip to learn about the weapons, leaders, and historically famous battles that shaped civilizations and the paths of history.

Overall, the book is well-crafted; the warriors and history are arranged in a loosely chronological order, and the book jumps from culture to culture, continent to continent every few pages, briefly describing a selection of the most successful weapons and battle strategies of each age. The illustrations—which have the look of mixed watercolor and digital—enhance the text and typically feature a full-page battle scene or character study on the verso and information about weapons, armor, etc. on the recto. Visually, some historical facts are inaccurate: Alexander the Great’s heterochromia is not depicted, and Joan of Arc seems inspired more by Albert Lynch’s 1903 depiction than by historical renderings, but overall the images are effective. The text is easily understood but has a definite, perhaps understandable bent toward hyperbole: “The Egyptian chariot was the most feared weapon in the world.” The mixture of cultures and genders throughout the book is diverse, and the inclusion of famous female generals and warriors (from Boudicca to Tomoe) is noteworthy. Backmatter beyond an index is nonexistent, which is unfortunate: Readers will search in vain for a glossary of terms, a pronunciation guide, and a timeline.

Glitches notwithstanding, this is worth a second look . (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-93-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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IF YOU LIVED DURING THE PLIMOTH THANKSGIVING

A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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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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