A bland alternative to You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Aztec Sacrifice (2013) and other entries in that rousing series.

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HOW TO LIVE LIKE AN AZTEC PRIEST

From the How to Live Like... series

In a tongue-limbering recitation, Tlenamacac (fire priest) Ten Vulture describes his city, his gods, and his training.

“It’s the year 1518 and you’re in the middle of the Aztec Empire,” he burbles, with a fine disregard for verisimilitude. “Aztecs rule, ok?” Ten Vulture then introduces Itztlacoliuhqui, Xipe Totec (“god of flayed skins…”), and eight other deities whose names are left to readers to sound out. Following this, he retraces his history from being chosen for the priesthood through games, wars, and blood sacrifices (with a bit of cannibalism thrown in). Despite multiple references to gruesome ritual practices, though, in the cartoon illustrations the occasional spatters of gore are almost unnoticeable. Aloisi populates his scenes with brown-skinned, bare-chested boys and men sporting elaborate headdresses or topknots (the few women in view are discreetly covered up). The attempt at historical accuracy seems to die with the scribbles that stand in for Aztec writing. At least most of the kanji in the co-published How to Live Like a Samurai Warrior and the hieroglyphics in How to Live Like an Egyptian Mummy Maker seem to be more than generic scribbles. These and How to Live Like a Caribbean Pirate (who were nearly all, at least according to illustrator Tatio Viano, white) are similarly framed as narratives by young participants.

A bland alternative to You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Aztec Sacrifice (2013) and other entries in that rousing series. (index, glossary) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5124-0628-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hungry Tomato/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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An insightful glimpse into a key period in Alcott’s life and women in nursing.

LOUISA MAY'S BATTLE

HOW THE CIVIL WAR LED TO LITTLE WOMEN

During the Civil War, Louisa May Alcott served as a volunteer nurse, caring for Union soldiers in Washington, D.C., between December 12, 1862, and January 21, 1863. This well-researched biographical vignette explores the brief but pivotal episode in Alcott’s life.

An abolitionist, Alcott longed to fight in the Union Army, but she did her part by serving as a nurse. Alcott met the female nursing requirements: She was 30, plain, strong and unmarried. Krull describes her challenging solo journey from Massachusetts by train and ship and her lonely arrival in Washington at the “overcrowded, damp, dark, airless” hospital. For three weeks she nursed and provided “motherly” support for her “boys” before succumbing to typhoid fever, forcing her to return to Massachusetts. Krull shows how Alcott’s short tenure as a nurse affected her life, inspiring her to publish letters she sent home as Hospital Sketches. This honest account of the war earned rave reviews and taught Alcott to use her own experiences in her writing, leading to Little Women. Peppered with Alcott’s own words, the straightforward text is enhanced by bold, realistic illustrations rendered in digital oils on gessoed canvas. A somber palette reinforces the grim wartime atmosphere, dramatically highlighting Alcott in her red cape and white nurse’s apron.

An insightful glimpse into a key period in Alcott’s life and women in nursing. (notes on women in medicine and the Battle of Fredericksburg, sources, map) (Picture book/biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8027-9668-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Even readers mad for all things horse won’t give this more than a quick graze before galloping off to richer pastures.

DECORATED HORSES

Bright colors and ornate furbelows flash in this survey of horsey fashion through the ages.

The vague topic and Patent’s accompanying commentary—being noticeably thin on specifics—come off as pretexts for an album of portraits for coltish horse lovers. Unfortunately, Brett doesn’t pick up the slack, as both horses and human figures posing in her flat paintings are drawn with unfinished, generic features, and the various blankets, braids, straps, plumes, fringes, saddles and pieces of armor on view are neither consistently identified nor displayed to best advantage. Grouped by function, the gallery of 14 examples opens with war horses (including armored steeds from an unspecified period of the Middle Ages and an Egyptian chariot confusingly paired to an Assyrian scenario set several centuries too early). It then goes on to portray horses trained to dance, race or compete in never-explained ways as draft teams. Following a final batch duded up for parades or, in ancient Scythia, ritual burial, a pair of labeled portraits, one of equine body parts and the other of standard tack, is shoehorned in.

Even readers mad for all things horse won’t give this more than a quick graze before galloping off to richer pastures. (index, bibliography, websites) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-362-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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