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An inventive introduction to a fascinating historical figure.

Another collaborative effort by the team that created The Poet King of Tezcoco: A Great Leader of Ancient Mexico (2007) chronicles the life of a controversial figure in pre-colonial Mesoamerica.

The indigenous woman who would serve as Hernán Cortés’ interpreter and companion was born in the early 1500s as Malinali and later christened Marina. She is now called La Malinche. Besides serving as translator to the Spaniard, she also gave him advice on native customs, religious beliefs and the ways of the Aztec. While Marina’s decision to help the Spanish in their often brutal quest for supremacy has led to many negative associations, others see her as the mother of all Mexicans, as she and Cortés had the first recorded mestizo. Although many of the details surrounding the specifics of Marina’s life were unrecorded, Serrano strengthens the narrative with quotations by her contemporaries and provides a balanced look at the life of a complicated, oft-maligned woman. Headers provide structure as events sometimes shift from the specific to the very broad, and some important facts are glossed over or relegated to the timeline. Reminiscent of pre-colonial documents, the illustrations convey both Marina’s adulation of Cortés and the violence of the Spanish conquest, complete with severed limbs, decapitations and more.

An inventive introduction to a fascinating historical figure. (map, chronology, glossary, sources and further reading) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55498-111-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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From the Basher History series

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

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 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A truly long field trip, with nary a map nor a timeline but unusual stops aplenty.

The Magic School Bus must be in the garage, but teacherly chaperon Professor Tempo not only expedites the outing, but even looks like Ms. Frizzle (in slacks).

Though he professes boredom, her student Augustus turns out to have a rather encyclopedic grasp on historical highlights. Teacher in tow, he skitters chronologically through past eras, from the first harnessing of fire 1 million years ago or so (“I know—awesome, eh?”) to 1969’s moon landing. Along the way he name-checks platoons of historical figures including six ancient Olympic champions, Nefertiti, and “Tutankhamen’s mother,” Qutb-ud-din Aybak, first sultan of Delhi, Leonardo (“bit of a genius”), Ada Lovelace, Australian pioneer pilot Nancy-Bird Walton, Einstein (“a friendly dude”), and three of the five Marx Brothers. Done in the flat, retro, screen-print look of M. Sasek’s This Is… series, Stevenson’s stylized illustrations are crowded with labeled figures in period costume, but Augustus, sporting red glasses and schoolboy shorts, can be picked out easily enough. Despite good intentions, it’s a Eurocentric tour, with the slanted eyes of Qin Shi Huang and associates adding that parochial flavor…but readers touch down at least once on every inhabited continent, and Augustus’ interests run more to arts, trains, and people than to wars and disasters.

A truly long field trip, with nary a map nor a timeline but unusual stops aplenty. (resource list, index) (Informational picture book. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-84780-704-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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