Books by Jan Adkins

BERTHA TAKES A DRIVE by Jan Adkins
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

"Even though grandmother meets the Motorwagen with the same disgruntlement as the emperor, everybody else cheers the contraption's epic voyage. (timeline, schematics, afterword) (Picture book. 6-10)"
Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go; we steal father's car, we are going quite far, and mother cooks up the whole show. Read full book review >
WHAT IF YOU MET A COWBOY? by Jan Adkins
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 27, 2014

"As Wild Bill Hickok 'says' in his blurb: 'Factual as far as it goes.' (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)"
Following other books in the What if You Met…(a Pirate, 2004; a Knight, 2006) series, this title somewhat less successfully tackles the subject of cowboys. Read full book review >
WHAT IF YOU MET A KNIGHT? by Jan Adkins
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2006

"The Code of Chivalry was very sweet, but an ambitious knight went about whacking off arms and heads as often as possible." In a similarly eye-opening follow up to What If You Met a Pirate? (2004), Adkins brushes aside common misconceptions about knights and knightly behavior, inviting readers to "Meet the Real Deal"—one Sir Guy of Wareham—and conducting a brisk tour of his administrative duties, along with glimpses of castle life and staffing, how to don armor, the course of the Crusades and like topics. Furnishing plenty of small figures in plate armor and other period dress, many playfully depicted within a stained glass window or on a long strip à la the Bayeaux Tapestry, the author dishes up a generalized but entertaining survey, with just a dash or two of gore, which will be snatched up by young squires and damsels. (Nonfiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
WHAT IF YOU MET A PIRATE? by Jan Adkins
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2004

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)Read full book review >
STRING by Jan Adkins
NONFICTION
Released: April 30, 1992

Despite a delightfully funny ``Opening Line'' concerning the orneriness of tangled string (``it has a nasty mind of its own''), the title here is something of a misnomer. String is mostly about rope and knots, an intriguing, densely packed volume about sailor's lore, the mechanics of rope, why some knots work better than others, vocabulary (``twine,'' ``line,'' ``sheets,'' ``halyards,'' etc.), even how to tie a bow tie and sew on a button (``a deft little piece of line engineering...a skill you will need the rest of your life''). The drawings are clear, detailed, and drawn with beguiling verve; they're also crammed with so many hints, arrows, directions, and comments (``a handsome knot—symmetrical and rhythmic'') that they can take some study to extract the meat. Adkins's instructions are full of brisk humor and great fun; he includes all the best knots—the bowline, the ``Abraham Lincoln'' of knots; clove, timber, and half hitches; and even a challenging new knot designed to cope with synthetic fibers: the ``Hunter's bend.'' Index. (Nonfiction. 10+) Read full book review >