Stunning visuals paired with some disappointing content.


Profiles of ancient cities from around the world, intricately illustrated, highlight their mysteries.

In Laroche’s latest work of nonfiction for kids, settlements “lost” to time or conquest or that have unknown histories are described, each profile hitting on “Location,” “Who lived here,” “Why was it lost,” “How was it found,” and “What’s mysterious.” Cities such as Babylon (in present-day Iraq), Angkor Wat (in Cambodia), and Rapa Nui (now called Easter Island) are represented in impressive detail thanks to Laroche’s signature paper-relief art. Backmatter includes a timeline, placing each city in chronological order of its construction, as well as an overview of Laroche’s artistic process. Young readers who are fascinated by historical mysteries may find this an interesting jumping-off point for deeper exploration of the featured settlements; none of the profiles are extensive enough to satisfy research-project requirements or the curiosity of true history nerds. Readers will encounter language that normalizes colonization: For example, much of the information listed under Laroche’s “How was it found?” sections describe European “explorers” and archaeologists who “rediscovered” or “visited” settlements built by the Indigenous peoples of the various continents. Additionally, the profile on Angkor Wat sets a peculiarly exocitizing scene: “If you had lived in this city…you would have encountered bizarre creatures, such as monkey-like wild macaques, flying wingless snakes, as well as people perched on elephants or dressed in colored silk sarongs.”

Stunning visuals paired with some disappointing content. (Nonfiction. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-75364-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.


The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.


A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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