An entertaining introduction to ancient Rome with kid-friendly humor that may make those convinced that history is boring...

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THE THRIFTY GUIDE TO ANCIENT ROME

From the Handbook for Time Travelers series

Published by Time Corp in the year 2163, this guidebook contains all the vital information needed for the intrepid traveler wishing to go back 2,100 years and partake of gladiatorial matches, Roman legions battling barbarian hordes, and a fight to the death between two captive armies at the Circus Maximus.

Depending on which Time Corp package is chosen, one can watch Cicero’s head get chopped off and displayed in the Forum or enjoy a weekend retreat in Pompeii before seeing it incinerated by a volcano. Accommodations are rated on availability of such amenities as horse parking and bales of hay for donkeys. Crassus, Hannibal, and Spartacus are recommended as interesting lunch companions. The best vantage points for witnessing Julius Caesar’s assassination are cited. There is practical advice on how to avoid being poisoned, beheaded, or torn apart by an angry mob. Factual information embedded in the jokey fictional narrative, often in sidebars, offers some interesting insights into the culture, economics, fashion, history, law, and politics of ancient Rome, but most of the information imparted tends toward the sensational. Among the historical figures introduced are Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Mark Antony, and Pompey. Amplifying the conceit are ratings pages for the various attractions and accommodations; the Vesuvius Inn does not accept food for barter but does accept plunder, while reviewers of the Coliseum complain of insufficient violence.

An entertaining introduction to ancient Rome with kid-friendly humor that may make those convinced that history is boring reconsider. (bibliography) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47960-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A valuable introduction to a vanished North American people, told with nuance, engagement, and rue.

TUNIIT

MYSTERIOUS FOLK OF THE ARCTIC

Before the Inuit came to the Arctic, there were the Tuniit.

The Qitsualik-Tinsleys offer readers an introduction to this prehistoric people, twining scientific findings with Inuit legend and even Inuktitut grammar to provide a window on the early Arctic. Without going into anthropological specifics, the husband-and-wife team, who include Inuit, Cree, and Mohawk in their combined heritage, introduce the notion that the Tuniit may not have been human before going on to say that they lived in settlements, originated the intricate stone cairns known as inuksuit, and were short, strong, and shy. They introduce snippets of traditional lore that claim supernatural powers for the Tuniit and that build a strong case for the eventual assimilation of the Tuniit by the encroaching Inuit. Anthropological discoveries validate the existence of the Tuniit and their disappearance as a distinct culture and genotype. Bigham contributes moody oil paintings and ink drawings; shifts in typeface seem to indicate corresponding shifts in mode that highlight the persistence of the Tuniit in Inuit legend, though this is not consistent. The authors clearly wrestle with the understanding that Inuit ancestors displaced an earlier indigenous people, introducing real poignancy to their exhortation that their readers respect the Tuniit by remembering them: "We remember a fate that no culture should have to endure."

A valuable introduction to a vanished North American people, told with nuance, engagement, and rue. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-927095-76-8

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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