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

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WHAT WAS IT LIKE, MR. EMPEROR?

LIFE IN CHINA'S FORBIDDEN CITY

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. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct.

PREHISTORIC

DINOSAURS, MEGALODONS, AND OTHER FASCINATING CREATURES OF THE DEEP PAST

An illustrated overview of life’s history on Earth, moving backward from now to its beginnings 3.5 billion years ago.

Zoehfeld begins with the present epoch, using the unofficial Anthropocene moniker, then skips back 12,000 years to the beginning of the Holocene and so back by periods to the Ediacaran and its predecessors, with pauses along the way to marvel at the widespread End-Cretaceous and End-Permian extinctions. Along with offering general observations about each time’s climate and distinctive biota, she occasionally veers off for glances at climate change, food webs, or other tangential topics. In each chapter she also identifies several creatures of the era that Csotonyi illustrates, usually but not always with photographic precision in scenes that are long on action but mostly light on visible consumption or gore. If some of the landscape views are on the small side, they do feature arresting portraits of, for instance, a crocodilian Smilosuchus that seems to be 100% toothy maw and a pair of early rodents resembling fierce, horned guinea pigs dubbed Ceratogaulus. Though largely a gimmick—the chapters are independent, organized internally from early to late, and could be reshuffled into conventional order with little or no adjustment to the narrative—the reverse-time arrangement does afford an unusual angle on just how far deep time extends.

Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912920-05-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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

IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH

AN EXERCISE IN ZOOLOGICAL EVIDENCE

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. 31, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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