As better pictures are available and the humor is too heavy-handed to add style points, that dismissal can serve for this...

An irreverent introduction to China’s long line of emperors, with sidelong glances at life in the outsized but cloistered imperial palace.

The simply phrased answer to a modern child’s titular question offers a jumble of general observations about forms of address, ceremonial duties, imperial officials and consorts, how members of the imperial family were educated, what they ate, and what emperors were expected to do and be. Readers will likely come away more confused than enlightened. The Forbidden City itself, built about 600 years ago, is neither mapped nor described here in any detail; such terms as “eunuch” and “consort” are defined long after they are first used (if at all); and Chinese expressions are discussed (and in one case translated two different ways) without being actually shown. Thick-lined cartoon figures in traditional dress, many with almost identical features, add a comical flavor. They pose on nearly every page with captions and comments in speech balloons that have, to say the least, an anachronistic ring: an emperor’s whiny “I’m stressed out,” is echoed a few pages later by a trio of “pregnant imperial consorts” racing to produce the first-born child; and the deposed last emperor, Puyi, closes with a casual “See ya!”

As better pictures are available and the humor is too heavy-handed to add style points, that dismissal can serve for this whole sloppy effort. (website) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9893776-6-9

Page Count: 108

Publisher: China Institute in America

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015



All those hundreds of witnesses and researchers can’t be wrong, can they? (Nonfiction. 9-11)

A true believer presents the evidence.

Expanding on a partial chapter in her outstanding Tales of the Cryptids (2006), Halls makes her case by tallying Native American legends, the many footprints and reported sightings (a map of the latter claims hundreds from every state except Hawaii), the famous Patterson-Gimlin film, the recorded “Sierra Sounds” and other circumstantial evidence. She also interviews scientists and Sasquatch hunters, includes an account of early searches for Tibet’s Yeti, adds the transcript of a panicky 911 call and even covers some proven hoaxes. She maintains a believer's voice, gently challenging refuseniks: "Serious Sasquatch hunters are as skeptical as unbelievers. They are not out to collect great stories. They are out to put together facts. Proof. The difference is, they are willing to keep an open mind." Illustrated with photos, drawings and archival images aplenty and closing with generous lists of print, Web and video resources this is about as convincing as it gets—considering the continuing absence of any incontrovertible physical proof—and should give young cryptid hunters a good hairy leg up on investigations of their own.

All those hundreds of witnesses and researchers can’t be wrong, can they? (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-25761-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011



Should attract aspiring adventurers.

After showcasing risk-taking gals in Women Daredevils (2007), Cummins introduces 10 “dauntless” women born before 1900 whose little-known deeds “contribut[ed] to science, geography, history, and cultural understanding” at a time when “proper ladies simply did not go gallivanting around the world to explore new territories.”

Starting with Louise Boyd, who traded stylish dresses for boots and breeches to explore the Arctic, and closing with Daisy Bates, who studied Australian Aborigines for 35 years, Cummins presents breezy three-to-four–page biographies of her unconventional females. The variety of their endeavors astound. Nellie Cashman “rushed” for gold in British Columbia, the Klondike and Alaska; botanist Ynes Mexia collected thousands of plants in the wilderness of Mexico, the United States and the Amazon; Lucy Cheesman sojourned with cannibals while studying insects in the South Pacific. Suffragist Annie Peck scaled Europe and South America’s highest peaks. Dutch heiress Alexandrine Tinné searched for the Nile’s source and was murdered traversing the Sahara. Delia Akeley became the first woman to cross Africa. Violet Cressy-Marcks made eight trips around the world, and Freya Stark traveled throughout the Middle East. In an engaging, informative style, Cummins highlights fascinating facts about these feisty females “who conquered the unknown.” Dramatic watercolor illustrations memorialize each.

Should attract aspiring adventurers. (author’s note and list of additional female explorers; selected bibliography, websites) (Collective biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3713-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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