WHAT IF YOU MET A PIRATE?

From the What If You Met… series

Adkins rejects the conventional glamorous image of the pirate to construct a scruffier, though only slightly less romanticized, one in this sweeping history of privateers, buccaneers, freebooters, and similar nautical nogoodnicks. Though he may characterize them as “violent, wicked criminals,” he downplays the more lurid tales of their bad behavior, focusing instead on generalities about their habits, hygiene (“Most pirates had bad teeth, and not very many of them”), and seamanship. He also introduces Sir Francis Drake, William Kidd, Henry Morgan, and other piratical luminaries—often so that he can go on about their bad ends. Scattering loosely drawn but practiced vignettes of men and ships around snippets of historical fact, Adkins offers nothing new beyond a distinctly personal tone, but the topic is hot just now, and there’s enough about ships and sailing here to draw more than narrowly focused pirate fans. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-59643-007-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2004

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

AMBUSH

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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GHOSTS OF THE NILE

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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