Unusual for its ambition if nothing else, this selective encyclopedia of “world” historical, cultural and scientific highlights offers at least a few unexpected choices but rarely looks beyond Europe and North America.
Arranged in chronological order, the 180 entries begin with the appearance of the first humans (“descended from apes,” as the authors inaccurately put it) about 6 million years ago and end with the 2011 earthquake near Japan. In between, they cover inventions from the plow to MP3 files, people from Confucius to Barack Obama, and events of diverse scale, from the “Rise of Greece” to the publication of the first Harry Potter book. Entries fill up a third of a page to a full spread; each features a date (with “BCE” appended for all before the year 1, justified by the optimistic claim that “it is acceptable to all peoples”), and most include both an informally drawn watercolor illustration and a quick, boxed comment on historical “ripples” that spread from the event or invention. This Canadian publication’s focus on its own national history is so close (not to mention Eurocentric: “1608: Champlain establishes permanent settlement in Canada”) that the American Civil War gets just two quick mentions—which is more notice than most African, Asian and Indian histories or cultures receive.
Satisfying fare for the culturally myopic. (index, no bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-12)