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Valuable both for its broad range and shivery appeal.

A mix of 32 timeless chillers and personal encounters with the supernatural gathered from Native American storytellers and traditions.

Carefully acknowledging his oral, online, and print sources (and appending lists of additional ones), Jones (Ponca) intersperses his own anecdotes and retellings with accounts by others collected in his travels. The generally brief entries are gathered into types, from brushes with ghosts or spirits (the latter distinguished by having “more complex agendas” than the former) to witches and monsters. In them, the tone ranges from mild eeriness—hearing an elder relative on the porch just moments after she died and seeing small footprints appear in wet concrete near the burial ground of an abandoned Oklahoma boarding school—to terrifying glimpses of were-owls, were-otters, a malign walking doll, and a giant water serpent with a “sinister smile.” They all join the more familiar (in children’s books, anyway) likes of Bigfoot and La Llorona. Linked to a broad diversity of traditions spanning the North American continent, the stories, both old—there’s one ascribed to the ancient Mississippian culture—and those given recent, even modern settings, are related in matter-of-fact language that underscores a common sense of how close the natural and supernatural worlds are. In sometimes-intricate ink drawings, Alvitre (Tongva) amps the creepiness by alternating depictions of everyday items with grinning skulls, heaps of bones, and the odd floating head.

Valuable both for its broad range and shivery appeal. (introductory notes) (Traditional literature. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-68160-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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From the The 50 States series

Go adventuring with a better guide.

Find something to do in every state in the U.S.A.!

This guide highlights a location of interest within each of the states, therefore excluding Washington, D.C., and the territories. Trivia about each location is scattered across crisply rendered landscapes that background each state’s double-page spread while diminutive, diverse characters populate the scenes. Befitting the title, one “adventure” is presented per state, such as shrimping in Louisiana’s bayous, snowshoeing in Connecticut, or celebrating the Fourth of July in Boston. While some are stereotypical gimmes (surfing in California), others have the virtue of novelty, at least for this audience, such as viewing the sandhill crane migration in Nebraska. Within this thematic unity, some details go astray, and readers may find themselves searching in vain for animals mentioned. The trivia is plentiful but may be misleading, vague, or incorrect. Information about the Native American peoples of the area is often included, but its brevity—especially regarding sacred locations—means readers are floundering without sufficient context. The same is true for many of the facts that relate directly to expansion and colonialism, such as the unexplained near extinction of bison. Describing the genealogical oral history of South Carolina’s Gullah community as “spin[ning] tales” is equally brusque and offensive. The book tries to do a lot, but it is more style than substance, which may leave readers bored, confused, slightly annoyed—or all three. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12.2-by-20.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80% of actual size.)

Go adventuring with a better guide. (tips on local adventuring, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5445-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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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

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