After the Homestead Act of 1862 and its offer of 160 acres of prairie land for $18.00 and five years of labor, men and women by the thousands took up the challenge and moved onto the prairie. They built soddy houses, tilled the soil by hand, and endured cold, fires, tornadoes, grasshoppers, and drought. Before 1900, fewer than a third of the homesteaders had “proved up,” that is, survived the five years on the land required to obtain ownership. Patent and Mu§oz (Apple Trees, p. 199, etc.) attempt to recreate the era by describing the daily life of the homesteaders, with text, historic documents, and full-color photographs of a 20th-century family living “the old way.” The link between the old and new is jarring, especially when contemporary and historical photographs appear together, e.g., an archival scene of a soddy across from a shot of a modern farmer in a baseball cap plowing a field with beautifully brushed horses. Such contrasts do not further the text, and, with pictures of modern gardens and close-ups of onions and gourds, detract from the compelling historical information. (map, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8027-8638-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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More-systematic treatments abound, but the airy tone and quick-facts presentation give this some potential as a...



From the Basher History series

In Basher’s latest set of breezy “self”-portraits, 58 gods, demigods and mythological creations of diverse sort step up in turn to the microphone.

The entrants are limited to the ancient Egyptian, Norse and Greco-Roman pantheons and arranged in no particular order within their respective chapters. They range from the usual celebrities like Poseidon (“rhymes with ‘Joe Biden’ ”), Odin and Osiris to some who have gotten less press, such as Hebe—“Waitress to the Olympians”—and Gefjon, Aesir goddess of plowing. Along with mixing in such non-Olympians as Odysseus, Budzik swells the ranks by lending voices to Bifrost, Yggdrasil and even the battle of Ragnarok. The author’s introductory claim that the gods gave mortals “something to believe in and ideals to aspire to when life was looking bleak” is massively disingenuous considering the speakers’ own accounts of their exploits (Hel complains, “It’s really grim here. I get the dreariest dead”). Nevertheless, the sex and violence are toned down to, for instance, Hera’s tart reference to “my hubby’s mortal girlfriends” and Isis’ allusion to “complicated family vibes” (following her brother/husband Osiris’ dismemberment by their brother, Seth). In a radical departure for Basher, some of his dolllike cartoon figures bear grimaces rather than cutesy smiles.

More-systematic treatments abound, but the airy tone and quick-facts presentation give this some potential as a lighter-than-air refresher. (chart and foldout poster of Greek/Roman equivalents) (Mythology. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7534-7171-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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The thousands of islands between Hawaii and the Philippines have a total land mass smaller than Rhode Island's. According to the author, their first settlers came from Southeast Asia thousands of years ago and remained relatively isolated until successive waves of explorers, settlers, and soldiers from Portugal, Spain, Germany, Britain, Japan, America, Australia, Korea, and China, began arriving in the 16th century. In this colorful photo essay, Hermes focuses on 15 children reflecting different cultural backgrounds on different islands. His descriptions of everyday life are vivid, but brief. Only one map is provided, with many islands shown no larger than a period and others not even represented. Still, a fascinating glimpse of little-known cultures struggling to keep their identities and maintain traditions while assimilating new cultural elements. Brief pronunciation guide; glossary; index. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 16, 1994

ISBN: 0-87614-819-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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