A superb snapshot of an adventurer.

Pizzoli resurrects an early-20th-century mystery in this riveting portrait of Percy Fawcett, a renowned British explorer who vanished during an ill-fated hunt for a “lost” city.

Shortly following an early life of military service to the British Empire, Fawcett dived deep into a career of adventuring. He trained for a year with the Royal Geographical Society, a prominent research center based in London, before the organization began to send him out on expeditions into South America between the years of 1906 and 1924. Pizzoli devotes the first half of Fawcett’s tale to building the latter’s legend, expertly drawing from Fawcett’s thrilling brushes with wildlife and local populations to bring to life the formidable explorer. (An encounter involving a giant anaconda is presented via minimalist illustrations both terrifying and brilliant in scope.) Throughout his various research excursions, Fawcett heard tales of a mythical city deep in the Amazon rain forest. Naming the city “Z,” Fawcett soon embarked on what turned out to be his final known expedition, and his subsequent disappearance went on to capture the public’s imagination. As in the author’s previous gem (Tricky Vic, 2015), the strikingly matte, mixed-media pictures ooze personality and perfectly complement the succinct text and informational sidebars. Predictably, Fawcett’s story features a cast of light-skinned characters, with a few brown-skinned individuals included to represent the invisible local populations; his failure to “conquer” in the end represents a fascinating twist on the usual narrative of imperialism.

A superb snapshot of an adventurer. (author’s note, appendix, glossary, selected sources) (Picture book/biography. 7-12)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-670-01653-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017



A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021


An empowering choice.

Shamir and Faulkner take readers on a trip through various moments in U.S. history as they explore the democratic process.

The text begins in 1884, when a young man rides for hours to deliver his local ballot box in the state of Nebraska. The book then jumps in nonlinear fashion from key moment to key moment, explaining its importance: Native Americans were granted citizenship in 1924 (their status as members of sovereign nations goes unmentioned); the emergency number 911 was created in 1968; George Washington was the only presidential candidate ever to run unopposed. The information is divided into general paragraphs that begin with a question and text boxes that supply trivia and provide additional context to the paragraphs. Children’s and teens’ roles are often cited, such as their participation in the civil rights movement and the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18. The information ranges from national elections to local, expanding on what can be done on a national level and what can occur locally. Along the way, Faulkner includes a diverse mixture of citizens. A range of ethnic groups, minorities, and people of various body sizes and abilities are included, making the book visually welcoming to all readers. An early image depicting a blind woman with both guide dog and cane appears to be the only visual misstep. The backmatter includes a timeline and sources for additional reading.

An empowering choice. (Informational picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3807-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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