Satisfying fare for the culturally myopic.

READ REVIEW

A HISTORY OF JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING

180 EVENTS, PEOPLE AND INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

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)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-775-4

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A great collection of harrowing, true survivor stories.

SURVIVORS

A large-format hardcover gathers together true stories of adventure and survival.

Two that are well-known, at least to adults, are Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition and the ordeal of Aron Ralston, who cut off his own arm with a dull pocketknife in order to extricate himself from a dislodged boulder that trapped him in a narrow canyon, the subject of the film 127 Hours. Lesser known is the story of Poon Lim, who survived 133 days alone in the South Atlantic when the merchant ship he was serving on was sunk by a U-boat. At one point, he caught a shark several feet long, pulled it aboard his raft, beat it to death, and proceeded to suck its blood and eat it raw for nourishment. Seventeen-year-old Juliane Koepcke, the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Peruvian rain forest, relied on survival lessons taught by her parents. During her nine-day ordeal, she poured gasoline on her wounds, which succeeded in removing 35 maggots from one arm. In a skiing accident, Anna Bågenholm was trapped under freezing water for so long her heart stopped. Four hours later, medics managed to warm her blood enough to revive her. The attractive design features a full-page or double-page–spread color illustration depicting a pivotal moment in each well-told story. Entirely absent are such standard features as table of contents, source notes, bibliography, or index, pegging this as an entertainment resource only.

A great collection of harrowing, true survivor stories. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-571-31601-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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