Readers after records should stick with Guinness.

ATLAS OF RECORD-BREAKING ADVENTURES

A COLLECTION OF THE BIGGEST, FASTEST, LONGEST, TOUGHEST, TALLEST AND MOST DEADLY THINGS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

From the Atlas of . . . series

Readers will gain a record-breaking knowledge of trivia.

Take a trip across all seven continents with explorers as they discover factoids galore. The explorers, one who presents White and the other with light-brown skin, travel the world, often accompanied by a local guide, gleaning information along the way. The pages depict surreal landscapes and maps featuring slightly anthropomorphized animals, such as a bindle-carrying bird and pirate hat–wearing caiman. Each double-page spread concentrates on one area and is splattered with tiny text that provides uneven levels of information. For example, in one box readers learn that cheetahs “accelerate from zero to 55 miles per hour in just three seconds” and that ostriches are “the fastest creature on two legs.” Great! But how fast are ostriches? The same page notes that a cheetah can “reach a top speed of over 60 miles per hour.” Wait! Isn’t it 55 mph? Other facts are equally vague. Readers learn that the Greenland shark is “the world’s oldest vertebrate,” but does this mean longest-living vertebrate or the vertebrate that has been around the longest? They are also instructed to hold their breath with a Cuvier’s beaked whale, “nature’s best air-breathing diver,” but aren’t told how long these whales can go between breaths. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.8-by-15.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 84% of actual size.)

Readers after records should stick with Guinness. (seek-and-find game, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5565-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Superficial but kind of fun.

THE ADVENTUROUS KID’S GUIDE TO THE WORLD’S MOST MYSTERIOUS PLACES

Take a magic-carpet ride to far-flung and seldom-seen locations.

Readers can follow a young, pale-skinned, khaki-clad adventurer as they set out on their magic carpet to explore unusual, unexpected, and sometimes dangerous spots around the world. Locations visited include the exclusive interior of Air Force One, the remote depths of the Mariana Trench, and the (potentially) fatal shores of Brazil’s Snake Island, among others. Each adventure follows a uniform template, whereby the location is introduced in a sweeping double-page painting with an introductory paragraph followed by another spread of images and facts. The illustrations are attractive, a bit reminiscent of work done by the Dillons in the 1970s and ’80s. Alas, while the text correctly states that the Upper Paleolithic art in France’s Lascaux cave features only one depiction of a human, the introductory illustration interpolates without explanation a probably Neolithic hunting scene with several humans from a Spanish site—which is both confusing and wrong. Trivia fans will enjoy the mixture of fact and speculation about the various locations; a small further-reading section in the back points to more information. While the potentially off-putting choice of magic carpet as conveyance is never explained, there is a disclaimer warning readers that the book’s creators will not take responsibility if they suffer calamity trying to actually visit any of these places. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Superficial but kind of fun. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5159-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Magic Cat

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Runs off the rails partway through but offers food for thought to children taking their right to an education for granted.

SECRET SCHOOLS

TRUE STORIES OF THE DETERMINATION TO LEARN

Inspiring tributes to select underground and nontraditional schools and those who founded them.

Gathering her brief accounts into thematic chapters, Camlot starts off with cases of schools founded to preserve suppressed languages or cultural identities—for Japanese migrant workers in Brazil and Indigenous Kichwa speakers in Ecuador in the mid-20th century, for instance—then goes on to highlight similar efforts to educate enslaved or imprisoned people (in the United States and the Third Reich) and girls and women in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, and Poland. Many of the activist founders and teachers remain anonymous, but Camlot does offer nods to, for example, Frederick Douglass and Nelson Mandela as well as Ecuador’s crusader Dolores Cacuango, Lithuanian book smuggler Jurgis Bielinis (whose birthday is a national holiday), and Mohammed Nasir Rahiyab, supporter of the subversive “Golden Needle Sewing School” in Herat, Afghanistan. How an ensuing look at spy training academies in Canada, Great Britain, and the USSR fits in is anybody’s guess, though, and along with reporting on a school in Jakarta for children of Muslim suicide bombers and underground reading groups in South Korea in the 1980s, the final chapter features only tantalizing glimpses of modern experiments in, as the heading has it, “Radical Learning.” Taniguchi’s stylized illustrations of studious figures in small groups underscore the fact that most of the courageous teachers and students here are or were people of color.

Runs off the rails partway through but offers food for thought to children taking their right to an education for granted. (notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-77147-460-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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