Books by Stewart Ross

ADVENTURE
Released: April 1, 2011

Biesty's trademark amusing, informatively detailed illustrations are a highlight of this entertaining examination of several voyages of exploration. Brief chapters in chronological order are presented on durable, very light cardboard stock with backgrounds appropriate to the era of the voyage: parchment, notebook paper, graph paper, etc. Chapters cover an impressive range of exploration. In addition to the usual suspects, they include a 340 B.C.E. Greek voyage to the Arctic Circle; Chinese Admiral Zheng He to India; David Livingston and Mary Kingsley into the African interior; Umberto Nobile flying over the North Pole, August and Jacques Piccard to the stratosphere and the bottom of the Marianas Trench, respectively; Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to the top of Everest; and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the moon. Each chapter includes a fold-out section of illustrations with a map of the journey and a cross-section of the method of transportation. Other illustrations expand on some of the equipment mentioned in the text. The fold-outs fit nicely into the volume, smaller than the "real" pages so they close up neatly. The chapters provide a level of detail that's just right for entertainment; intrigued readers may try some of the sources listed in the backmatter. (These are mostly primary source materials, potentially daunting for young readers.) An altogether agreeable package for armchair explorers. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-13)Read full book review >
EGYPT by Stewart Ross
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

Populating his huge scenes with enough tiny figures to fill several ancient cities, Biesty takes a lad and his merchant father down the Nile during the reign of Ramses II, pausing for tours of Amun-Ra's temple at Karnak, the Valley of Kings and other prominent spots, culminating in a royal audience at the great palace at Piramesse in the Nile delta. Each exploded riverine view, rendered in minuscule detail, is surrounded by captions and general comments that not only identify rooms, plants, buildings, artifacts and activities, but also provide glimpses of daily life, cultural and social practices and religious beliefs. Not the most systematic way to learn about ancient Egypt at its height, but a compelling journey for visual learners and armchair travelers. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
TALES OF THE DEAD by Stewart Ross
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2005

This fiction/nonfiction hybrid features topical spreads on life in the early Roman Empire, loosely connected by a story, told in graphic novel-style panels running along the margins, of two young North African captives sold into slavery. The made-up part is too trite and sketchy to be more than a temporary distraction. Likewise the text, printed in several sizes and faces, shoehorned into every nook and cranny, occasionally marred by factual errors (no, Roman roads weren't built on wooden foundations) and written in a modern idiom throughout—"OK, so maybe I don't get along with Sabina that well." It's the finely detailed (if blood and dirt free) history paintings, adorned with frequent cutaways and abuzz with small, busy figures, that will provide the real draw. Still, there's more flash here than substance; steer learners, visual or otherwise, to the plethora of more systematic surveys already out there. (index, no resource lists) (Fiction/nonfiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
Released: May 17, 1999

Subtitled "A concise guide to a century of contrast and change," with "concise" as the key word, this slim survey takes sweeping, single-spread glances at wars, the decline of empires, show business, the battle for racial and sexual equality, the globalization of US culture, and other major themes of this century. Underscoring the text's generalizations, the many full-color photographs are chosen to create pointed juxtapositions, matching, for instance, Marlene Dietrich to Buzz Lightyear, or impoverished parents and children in 1912 London and in modern Somalia. Selected events are highlighted both in chronologies on every spread and along a timeline that spans the last four pages. Too scanty for basic reference, and employing oversimplification (as well as the same photograph of Mickey Mouse twice) to a fault" "the culture of Hollywood, represented by the smiling face of Mickey Mouse, became the culture of the whole world"—this provides only a slim framework on which to hang some understanding of recent history. (charts, chronology, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1999

This is a well-written and illuminating picture-book length biography of a man whose humorous view of life and somewhat wild side appeal to readers of all ages. Children learn how after the untimely death of his father, Samuel Clemens went to work as an apprentice printer and was paid in room and board and "his boss's cast-off clothing." This led to working as a typesetter and finally to a career in journalism. Ross (Charlotte Brontâ and Jane Eyre, 1997, etc.) deftly demonstrates that this writer's outstanding achievement was giving voice to the American spirit; his finest creation, Huckleberry Finn, praised the independent spirit above all. Himler's evocative paintings and black-and-white line drawings portray the talent and genius of this American writer, against the landscapes and vistas that he made his own. (chronology, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 9-12) Read full book review >
CHARLOTTE BRONTE AND JANE EYRE by Stewart Ross
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

Ross (Shakespeare and Macbeth, 1994) takes a look at Charlotte Brontâ's life and how it influenced the writing of Jane Eyre, hoping to inspire readers to tackle that novel. Lovely full-color and black-and-white illustrations bring readers powerful images of both Charlotte's and Jane's lives, which contained many similar themes, e.g., Jane Eyre's cruel experiences at Lowood School reflect Charlotte's unhappiness at the Cowan Bridge Clergy Daughters' School. In addition to the parallels between Charlotte and her fictional creation, Ross focuses on how the writer developed her craft: She read widely, indulged in ``scriblomania,'' wrote make-believe fantasies lifting herself ``out of the small world of Haworth,'' and studied with Monsieur Constantin Heger in Brussels. Ross also discusses Jane Eyre, and why it was unique when it was published (it was neither Gothic horror nor a tale of domestic manners). The insert in which that is disclosed and other inserts—on fatal diseases, Victorian England, etc.—are interesting, but also interfere with the flow of the story. Still, this is a creative approach to biography, certain to encourage readers to take longer looks at Charlotte Brontâ's novels and her life. (chronology, further reading) (Nonfiction. 8-11) Read full book review >
SHAKESPEARE AND MACBETH by Stewart Ross
MUSIC AND THE ARTS
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

In this superb book, Ross (World Leaders, not reviewed) not only makes Macbeth live—he also makes the drama behind the play come alive as well. Aided by Karpinski and Ambrus's old master-style illustrations and kinetic sketches, Ross presents Shakespearean London, the Globe theater, and the royal palace at Hampton Court. He describes in surprising detail, though never tediously, the situation of the King's Men actors. Not only did they perform daily from a large repertoire of plays, they also had to handle drunken hecklers from the audience and were constantly in fear that the torches lighting the stage would ignite the wooden theater. (The Globe did eventually burn down in 1613 during a performance of Henry VIII.) Ross also explains how Shakespeare conceived of and wrote Macbeth. The bard picked a Scottish theme to please the recently crowned James I, who was also King of Scotland; he combined two histories to create a moving tragedy, while at the same time clearing any of James's ancestors of wrongdoing; and he made the play short, because James had a limited attention span. Shakespeare continued to write Macbeth throughout rehearsals, and he gave each actor only his own part so that rival companies would not be able to get a complete copy of the play and steal it. The play was, of course, a huge success. A terrific job of making the vitality of Shakespeare accessible. (Index; chronology; bibliography and further reading; foreword by Kenneth Branagh) (Book-of-the-Month Club selection) (Nonfiction/Picture book. 10+) Read full book review >