Readers are introduced to 10 notable expeditions through history and challenged to identify anachronisms in as many tableaux.
From Marco Polo’s 13th-century trek to China to Apollo 11, each journey is presented in two double-page spreads. The first is an expansive cartoon scene that imagines the principal players and is glossed by a short paragraph. Planted in each of these are 20 anachronisms. Two children, one white and one black, act as guides and drop the occasional hint: “What’s that Viking doing here?” says one in a scene introducing Zheng He’s 15th-century treasure fleet. The subsequent spread offers a guide to the goofs, explaining what’s out of place and briefly discussing what might have been there instead. A steel-drum band welcomes Columbus to Hispaniola, for instance, but readers are told that actual 15th-century “Taino would have used simple drums fashioned from wood and leather.” Some planted errors are obvious, such as Capt. Cook’s “I [heart] NY” T-shirt, but other elements may not jump out at readers, such as the red and white club held by a Maori chief—readers must peruse the key to discover it’s an aluminum baseball bat and not an authentic carved and painted artifact. The repeated use of a Plains Indian in feathered headdress reinforces stereotypes and could well fuel confusion, as when he appears in the Missouri River encounter between the Lewis and Clark expedition and unidentified Native Americans.
Superficial at best. (Nonfiction. 8-12)