Ineffective and misleading.

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THE AZTEC EMPIRE

From the Discover… series

This comic-book–like synthesis of the Aztec empire surveys the history and culture of one of the major civilizations of pre-Hispanic Mexico.

The book touches on religion, architecture, education, the arts, and the Spanish invasion. Information is presented in concise paragraphs accompanying illustrated panels. The snappy dialogue within the speech bubbles has a decidedly contemporary slant. However, from the introductory assertion that Mesoamerica is a region of Central America to the foldout timeline that indicates that Cortés landed in Central America rather than Mexico—which happens to be in North America—the credibility of the content is suspect. Imogen Greenberg describes the Aztecs as an “ancient people” despite the fact they were historical contemporaries of Henry VIII at the time of the conquest. The Olmecs were using chocolate by 1900 B.C.E., yet the back cover implies that the Aztecs “discovered” chocolate—over 3,000 years later. The primitive earth-tone digital graphics are either incongruous or anachronistic in many instances. Maya structures and Toltec pillars, which predate the Aztecs by centuries, are presented as examples of the Aztecs’ “amazing buildings.” Not only do they adorn the cover, they are scattered across a sandy, Egyptian-esque landscape that also includes the occasional saguaro instead of the region’s prickly pear cactus. The touted 500-year timeline hardly encompasses 200 years. And there is no pronunciation guide. Companion title The Ancient Greeks publishes simultaneously. Its timeline is said to stretch 3,000 years, including several events that occurred “Way back when,” but its recorded history spans but 200. Neither volume includes a bibliography or suggestions for further research.

Ineffective and misleading. (Graphic nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-84780-950-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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Brisk, broad, often funny…and more than just peddling the medals.

ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GOLD!

AN IRREVERENT GUIDE TO THE SPORTS OF THE SUMMER GAMES

An overview of Olympic and Paralympic events, with notes on rules, history, special gear, and epic feats and fails.

After quick intros to the ancient and modern games—and a timeline of the latter that, in a spirit of optimism, runs to 2020—this handbook goes on to cover some 40-plus events or classes of event, including sport climbing and skateboarding, both putatively debuting in 2020. Each entry arranges quick bursts of fact, historical background, basic rules of play, and medal tallies of renowned winners around a large, stylized central scene showing racially and ethnically diverse competitors in vigorous action; occasionally snarky commentary adds a chuckle or two (Wrestling: “A combat sport in which two athletes in singlets roll around on a mat cuddling each other until one of them can’t move anymore”). Along with individual entries for goalball and boccia, which are exclusively Paralympic events, versions of each sport as adapted for athletes with disabilities get nods throughout. Despite a claim at the outset that it’s “all about the medals!” every entry also includes general advice about the hazards and pleasures of participating in each sport at any level of skill. Readers will come away with a good overall view of the summer Olympics, if not a complete tally—in sailing alone, as Allen notes, there are 10 to 15 races in each of eight different events—plus a look at 19 exciting sports or games that may one day be added, like break dancing or…well, bowling.

Brisk, broad, often funny…and more than just peddling the medals. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1398-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A change of pace from the typical blood-and-guts approach to the topic, populous enough to sate even the most rabid...

DINOSAUR EMPIRE!

JOURNEY THROUGH THE MESOZOIC ERA

From the Earth Before Us series , Vol. 1

A quick trip through the Mesozoic Era with a paleontologist is all young Ronnie needs to become a dino-maniac.

So desperate is Ronnie to better a dinosaur exam’s failing grade that she’s willing to follow her odd but scholarly neighbor Miss Lernin into a curbside recycling bin—which, thanks to “Science Magic,” leaves the two in the late Triassic. Between meeting plateosaurs on that stop and a cozy nuzzle with a T. rex in the late Cretaceous, Ronnie gets an earful about dinosaur anatomy, convergent evolution, types of prehistoric life, protofeathers and other recent discoveries, and (as Miss Lernin puts it) “the exciting world of…phylogenetic trees!!” But mostly what she gets are dinosaurs. The graphic panels teem with (labeled) prehistoric life including, along with dozens of dinos, many early mammals and other contemporaries. Howard depicts nearly all of this fauna with snub noses and such friendly expressions that in no time (so to speak) Ronnie is exclaiming “Oh my gosh…Jurassic crocodylomorphs were so cute!” Indeed, her white tutor agrees, but also cool, dangerous, and majestic. Ronnie, who is depicted as a black girl, returns to the present to earn a perfect score on a retaken test and go on to spread the dino-word to her diverse classmates. Though the lack of source or resource lists is disappointing, closing graphic recaps of major prehistoric creatures and, yes, a phylogenetic tree provide some review.

A change of pace from the typical blood-and-guts approach to the topic, populous enough to sate even the most rabid dinophiles. (glossary) (Graphic informational fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2306-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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