From the Interview With series , Vol. 2

This entertaining gallery of malefactors seductively introduces history.

Horrid historical humans get the Q&A treatment.

With the aid of a time machine/translator, the author meekly interviews a slew of antiheroes (eight men, one woman, and one couple, the notorious Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow), most of whom are of European or American origin. British humor and amusing line drawings leaven the encounters, but quite a number of fascinating facts make it through. Each outlaw is evil in a different way. Allowed his say, Blackbeard contends that he is not bloodthirsty and disavows chanting “pieces of eight” (Seed does not mention that the piece was in fact a Spanish coin); Ivan the Terrible (or “Fearsome”) argues for the rightness of his acts. The interviews are followed by a fact sheet with maps that finishes the story (sometimes adding missing details, since these baddies could be secretive). Characters who might be new to U.S. readers include the self-justifying Guy Fawkes, Ned Kelly (who uses Aussie slang and whose backstory complicates his case), and Zheng Yi Sao (a female Chinese pirate). We are told of Vlad’s impaling practices but not why he remains a heroic figure in Romania. Victor Lustig, a mere con man, is outclassed by the murderers here. But they all (except Zheng) come to a bad end—unlike this engrossing book, which ends with a tongue-in-cheek quiz.

This entertaining gallery of malefactors seductively introduces history. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2023

ISBN: 9781783129119

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Mortimer Children's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022


Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019



An introduction to ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings. The authors begin with how archaeologist Howard Carter found the tomb of King Tut, then move back 3,000 years to the time of Thutmosis I, who built the first tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Finally they describe the building of the tomb of a later Pharaoh, Ramses II. The backward-forward narration is not always easy to follow, and the authors attribute emotions to the Pharaohs without citation. For example, “Thutmosis III was furious [with Hatshepsut]. He was especially annoyed that she planned to be buried in KV 20, the tomb of her father.” Since both these people lived 3,500 years ago, speculation on who was furious or annoyed should be used with extreme caution. And the tangled intrigue of Egyptian royalty is not easily sorted out in so brief a work. Throughout, though, there are spectacular photographs of ancient Egyptian artifacts, monuments, tomb paintings, jewels, and death masks that will appeal to young viewers. The photographs of the exposed mummies of Ramses II, King Tut, and Seti I are compelling. More useful for the hauntingly beautiful photos than the text. (brief bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7922-7223-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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