Bloodthirsty readers may be a little disappointed by these quick stabs at high-interest, if extinct, occupations.


From the How to Live Like... series

A 10th-century Norwegian jarl’s son lays out the training, gear, and attitude requisite for a proper Viking life (and death).

Young Olaf Sharpaxe is visibly puny next to the exaggeratedly brawny brutes making up the rest of his father’s “hird” (warrior band) in Epelbaum’s cartoon illustrations but sports a comically crazed expression to make up for it. He describes the hard training, the camaraderie, how to choose the best weapons and armor, and life in the jarl’s hall. Following a quick description of a longship, he also supplies step-by-step directions for launching a raid, taking spoils, and, following his father’s death from wounds, how to bury a Viking chief. All of this, plus thumbnail accounts of renowned Viking warriors, Valhalla, and Ragnarok are capped by “Ten Vicious Viking Facts” to take away. For all the ferocity and mighty sword strokes in the pictures, though, there is nary a drop of spilled blood to be seen, and even in the narrative, violence is downplayed: brutal warrior Erik Bloodaxe “was lucky enough to have good skalds (poets) to put a better spin on his dubious deeds.” The co-published How to Live Like a Roman Gladiator is likewise all thrilling posturing with implicit, never explicit, gore.

Bloodthirsty readers may be a little disappointed by these quick stabs at high-interest, if extinct, occupations. (index) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-7213-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hungry Tomato/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A crisp historical vignette.



A boy experiences the Boston Tea Party, the response to the Intolerable Acts, and the battle at Breed’s Hill in Charlestown.

Philbrick has taken his Bunker Hill (2013), pulled from its 400 pages the pivotal moments, added a 12-year-old white boy—Benjamin Russell—as the pivot, and crafted a tale of what might have happened to him during those days of unrest in Boston from 1773 to 1775 (Russell was a real person). Philbrick explains, in plainspoken but gradually accelerating language, the tea tax, the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the quartering of troops in Boston as well as the institution of a military government. Into this ferment, he introduces Benjamin Russell, where he went to school, his part-time apprenticeship at Isaiah Thomas’ newspaper, sledding down Beacon Hill, and the British officer who cleaned the cinders from the snow so the boys could sled farther and farther. It is these humanizing touches that make war its own intolerable act. Readers see Benjamin, courtesy of Minor’s misty gouache-and-watercolor tableaux, as he becomes stranded outside Boston Neck and becomes a clerk for the patriots. Significant characters are introduced, as is the geography of pre-landfilled Boston, to gain a good sense of why certain actions took place where they did. The final encounter at Breed’s Hill demonstrates how a battle can be won by retreating.

A crisp historical vignette. (maps, author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Historical fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16674-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Fold down the drawbridge and step through. Mind the mucky patches.



Flurries of small-to-tiny flaps give good cause to linger at each stop on this buttery-to-battlements castle tour.

It’s not all typical 13th-century feasting and fighting on display either, as opening teasers warn of 16 anachronistic items (among them a pair of boxer shorts), a lost treasure and a spy—or maybe ghost—to spot along the way. Castle de Chevalier comes equipped with a lord and lady, mail-clad men at arms and servants of diverse sorts. There’s also a well-stocked torture chamber/dungeon and, as revealed in cutaway views and beneath the diminutive die-cut flaps, thriving populations of bats, rats and spiders…not to mention the occasional detached head. The visit ends with a tournament, where tents, spectators and jousting knights can be viewed in situ or rearranged to suit with separate punch-out versions. Except for an arrant disconnect on the chapel spread, Pipe’s flippant commentary supplies tolerable if rudimentary bits of plot and explication. Though not so maniacally awash in microbusiness as the illustrations in Stephen Biesty’s Cross-Sections: Castle (written by Richard Platt, 1994), Taylord’s bustling cartoon scenes may well require a magnifying glass to make out all the detail. The same applies to the cutaways and Victorian-era rooms in the simultaneously published Lift, Look, and Learn Doll’s House.

Fold down the drawbridge and step through. Mind the mucky patches. (Informational novelty. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-78312-081-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Carlton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet