Entertainingly grandiose but too superficial to reign over more fact-based surveys.



From the How-To Guides for Fiendish Rulers series

Pharaoh explains why it’s good to be top banana.

Though cast at the outset as a generic pharaoh’s advice for his successor, the pretext is quickly abandoned in favor of a top-down view of ancient Egyptian society that focuses on the necessity of keeping priests, nobles, and common people under the pharaonic thumb. Along with accounts of what viziers and scribes are for, the boastful narrator describes in colloquial language the ruler’s lifestyle, autocratic privileges (“I’m sick of crocodile head. Where’s the cake?”), foreign relations, select deities, and, finally, mummification and burial. “Fiendish Fact File” boxes on every spread offer anecdotes about specific pharaohs—10 more of whom get thumbnail profiles at the close—and on nearly every page Pentney adds scowling, heroically chiseled cartoon figures in period dress with fierce scowls (and unrealistically light skin). Aside from Hatshepsut and Cleopatra, women get almost no notice here. More disappointingly, to bloodthirsty readers at least, actual fiendish deeds likewise rarely get more than bare mentions. The co-published An Emperor’s Guide, A King’s Guide, and A Shogun’s Guide offer similar messages, historical tidbits, and art in the same format from heads of state in, respectively, ancient Rome, medieval Western Europe, and classical Japan.

Entertainingly grandiose but too superficial to reign over more fact-based surveys. (index) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-3073-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hungry Tomato/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

She said, “Failure is impossible,” and she was right, but unfortunately her steely determination does not come through in...


Susan B. Anthony worked to win women the right to vote her whole long life, but she did not live to see it done.

Wallner uses her flat decorative style and rich matte colors to depict Susan B. Anthony’s life, layering on details: Susan catching snowflakes behind her parents’ house; working in her father’s mill (briefly) and then departing school when the money ran out; writing at her desk; speaking passionately in front of small groups and rowdy crowds. It’s a little too wordy and a little less than engaging in describing a life in which Anthony traveled alone, hired her own halls, spoke tirelessly about women’s suffrage, published, created forums where women could speak freely and was arrested for registering to vote. Her life-long friendship with suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton is touched on, as are the virulent attacks against her ideas and her person. She died in 1906. Votes for women did not come to pass in the United States until 1920.

She said, “Failure is impossible,” and she was right, but unfortunately her steely determination does not come through in this book. (timeline, bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1953-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet