From the What If You Met… series

Adkins rejects the conventional glamorous image of the pirate to construct a scruffier, though only slightly less romanticized, one in this sweeping history of privateers, buccaneers, freebooters, and similar nautical nogoodnicks. Though he may characterize them as “violent, wicked criminals,” he downplays the more lurid tales of their bad behavior, focusing instead on generalities about their habits, hygiene (“Most pirates had bad teeth, and not very many of them”), and seamanship. He also introduces Sir Francis Drake, William Kidd, Henry Morgan, and other piratical luminaries—often so that he can go on about their bad ends. Scattering loosely drawn but practiced vignettes of men and ships around snippets of historical fact, Adkins offers nothing new beyond a distinctly personal tone, but the topic is hot just now, and there’s enough about ships and sailing here to draw more than narrowly focused pirate fans. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-59643-007-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2004



It took four weeks for illustrations of scenes from the US’s Civil War battles to make it from the front lines to readers’ hands; Morrison (Cheetah, 1998, etc.) explains that process in his uniquely handsome book. Morrison introduces the fictional artist, William Forbes, commissioned by the fictional Burton’s Illustrated News to follow the Union Army into battle at Bull Run. Throughout the day’s fighting Forbes makes quick sketches; it is risky business, and he is often in mortal peril. That night he makes a more complete drawing, which is handed to a courier and taken back to the Burton offices. There, engravers set to work translating Forbes’s drawing to a grid of wood blocks (Morrison includes interesting incidentals along the way, giving the process its due). The images are converted to electrotype, whereafter it is finally ready for the operators and pressman. Shortly after that, the newsboys are seen hawking the illustrated weekly, containing Forbes’s image a mere month after the actual event. Morrison successfully renders the complexities of illustrating newspapers 150 years ago, and just as successfully conveys that in abandoning the wood block for the photograph, some of the art was sacrificed for speed. (glossary) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-91426-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999




Arnold and Hewett (Stories in Stone, 1996, etc.) record the harrowing rescue of a baby gray whale who had become separated from her mother off the coast of California. She was discovered on January 10, 1997, exhausted, hungry, and near death. J.J. was 14 feet long when she was brought to SeaWorld as a young calf. Gaining 900 pounds in the first month, she had to be moved to a new home by crane. Her caretakers started planning on giving J.J. skills so that she could be released and survive on her own in the ocean. Divers put her food on the bottom of the pool, each day in a different location, so she could practice searching. Arnold is relaxed in her telling, allowing the already dramatic events to unfold naturally: “Everyone cheered as J.J. took a big breath, dove deep, and disappeared. The young whale was on her own.” Full-color photos capture the excitement of J.J.’s release, but also the hard work of preparing her for her return to the sea. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8167-4961-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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