I SPY THE ILLUMINATI EYE

WHAT'S THE BIG SECRET?

This tongue-in-cheek look at the Illuminati leaves more questions than answers. Of course, that’s the way they like it.

Secret codes and cryptography are always fascinating, but Keenan’s examination of the supposedly current secret society is a jumble of information told in a sarcastic tone that falls flat. The book starts out well enough, with a brief discussion of the brain and a look at how humans are hard-wired to make connections between seemingly unrelated things, which leads to conspiracy theories. It also summarizes the creation of the original Order of the Illuminati and its Bavarian founder, Adam Weishaupt. From there, readers learn a little about the Templars, a little about the Freemasons, and a little about other secret societies. The book, like most good conspiracy theories, is quick to jump from interesting point to interesting point, but it’s light on evidence along the way. Statements are presented to the reader as facts, but there’s no way to know how Keenan came to these conclusions. For example, while discussing the New World Order, the book states that nearly 1/3 of American voters believe that the Order is “the global takeover by a secret government formed by the Illuminati and maybe aliens”; the part about the aliens is rescinded in the next paragraph, but there is no source for the part that is presented as fact. Keenan frequently alludes to “countless” websites, books, and videos but provides no backmatter for further reading or reference.

Skip. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-8793-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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