Macdonald (First Facts About the Ancient Romans, 1997, etc.) attempts to explain past history through the experiences of children from various cultures and time periods, noting that the details of their lives did not always merit recording or preserving: “They had little money and hardly any power, so few writers or artists thought it worthwhile to record their lives.” Every spread, arranged roughly chronologically, describes a different topic or culture, e.g., “Ancient Egypt,” “Toys and Games,” “The Children’s Crusade,” “Benin,” “The French Revolution,” etc. A sidebar covers a particular child from that place and time, among them, Princess Amat al-Aziz of Baghdad, a.d. 758, who “had the deepest desire to do good”; Egil Skallagrimsson, a young Icelander who killed his playmate at age six; Nathan Field, an actor with Shakespeare’s troupe; and Anne Frank, who may be the most famous child of WWII, an era otherwise given sparse treatment. Full-color drawings by five artists, historical photographs, and thumb-sized world maps accompany a text that runs between understatement and exaggeration; Macdonald’s idea is certainly a good one, but it may be that the coverage, attempting uniformity where none exists, is simply too uneven. (chronology, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-689-81378-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Chatty, formulaic, superficial—and dispensable, as the content is neither reliable nor systematic. .



From the Basher History series

Sprouting bodies and grins, the states introduce themselves alphabetically in this Basher History gallery.

Following the series’ cast-in-stone design, each entry poses in a cartoon portrait with small emblems representing prominent physical features, industry, number of native U.S. presidents and other select distinctions. On opposite pages, a hearty self-description dominates: “Aloha! Come and hang ten with me, dude. I’m a bunch of chilled-out islands in the Pacific, but I have a fiery heart.” This is sandwiched between bulleted lists of superficial facts, from state bird, flower and nickname to (for Arkansas) “Known for diverse landscape, extreme weather, and Walmart.” U.S. territories bring up the rear, followed by a table of official state mottos and, glued to the rear cover, a foldout map. Along with out-and-out errors (a mistranslation of “e pluribus unum”) and unqualified claims (Boston built the first subway), Green offers confusing or opaque views on the origins of “Hawkeye,” “Sooners,” some state names and which of two “Mississippi Deltas” was the birthplace of the blues. Furthermore, a reference to “sacred hunting grounds” in West Virginia and Kentucky’s claim that “It wasn’t until pioneer Daniel Boone breached the Cumberland Gap…that my verdant pastures were colonized” are, at best, ingenuous.

Chatty, formulaic, superficial—and dispensable, as the content is neither reliable nor systematic. . (index, glossary) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7534-7138-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



Eleven-year-old Lonek’s experiences as a Jewish child in the early years of WWII are almost unbelievably horrible: Forced to flee Poland in 1939 after the German invasion, he and his family are transported to a Siberian gulag, where they remain for a year, barely surviving unspeakable conditions. Upon their release, Lonek’s anguished mother brings him to an orphanage because that seems his only chance to live. What follows is the boy’s harrowing, solo two-year journey that takes him to other parts of the Soviet Union, then to Iran, India, around the Middle East and, finally, to safety in Palestine in 1942. Readers will marvel at how anyone, let alone a child, could endure all this and will cheer as Lonek reaches freedom at last. However, the recounting of his tribulations and ultimate triumph deserves a much better treatment than is given here. Lonek’s story should be more involving and engrossing, but Whiteman’s writing is pedestrian and repetitive, especially given that she has already written this story for adults. Photos and follow-up postwar data on Lonek and his family are included. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-59572-021-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Star Bright

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet