An informative addition to the prolific author’s well-crafted series of illustrated books that make history relatable to a...


Part of a series for older elementary and young middle school students, this detailed work presents life in ancient Mali through the eyes of a young girl.

“If you were me and lived at the height of the Mali (Mah-lee) Empire, you would have been born in the year 1332.” The “me” referred to in this comprehensive history tale for tweens is a 10-year-old girl living in Mali’s capital city as it may have looked hundreds of years ago. Packed with facts about the West African kingdom and its long reign as a world power, this softcover picture book is part of Roman’s (Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?, 2017, etc.) diverse history series with titles covering such places as ancient China, the Mayan Empire, and ancient Greece. (The author’s nonfiction works also include her extensive If You Were Me and Lived in… series introducing children to cultures around the world.) As with her previous volumes, Roman hangs substantial educational content on a mild storytelling framework, giving young people a personalized way into the subject through a relatable “you are there” device. Readers learn about Mali’s desert geography, housing, clothing, weaponry, farmers and artisans, religious practices, education (boys were schooled; girls stayed home), governance (and brutal law enforcement), food (“grilled fish caught fresh from the Niger River…the fruit of the baobab tree”), and prominence as a major trade route for the export of salt and gold and the import of silk and slaves. (Here, Roman’s reference to slavery, which still exists in that region, is a shade too matter-of-fact: “It was sad, but slaves were considered a valuable commodity rather than people.”) Arkova’s (Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?, 2017, etc.) well-researched images mostly occupy two-thirds of each double-page spread and are rendered in a soft, warm palette inspired by Mali’s river and desert environs. Also included: pronunciation guides, a glossary, and a list of individuals—a king, an architect, a scholar, and prominent wives, among them—who were significant in shaping Mali’s history.

An informative addition to the prolific author’s well-crafted series of illustrated books that make history relatable to a tween audience.

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5403-3727-6

Page Count: 78

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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