From the The 50 States series

Go adventuring with a better guide.

Find something to do in every state in the U.S.A.!

This guide highlights a location of interest within each of the states, therefore excluding Washington, D.C., and the territories. Trivia about each location is scattered across crisply rendered landscapes that background each state’s double-page spread while diminutive, diverse characters populate the scenes. Befitting the title, one “adventure” is presented per state, such as shrimping in Louisiana’s bayous, snowshoeing in Connecticut, or celebrating the Fourth of July in Boston. While some are stereotypical gimmes (surfing in California), others have the virtue of novelty, at least for this audience, such as viewing the sandhill crane migration in Nebraska. Within this thematic unity, some details go astray, and readers may find themselves searching in vain for animals mentioned. The trivia is plentiful but may be misleading, vague, or incorrect. Information about the Native American peoples of the area is often included, but its brevity—especially regarding sacred locations—means readers are floundering without sufficient context. The same is true for many of the facts that relate directly to expansion and colonialism, such as the unexplained near extinction of bison. Describing the genealogical oral history of South Carolina’s Gullah community as “spin[ning] tales” is equally brusque and offensive. The book tries to do a lot, but it is more style than substance, which may leave readers bored, confused, slightly annoyed—or all three. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12.2-by-20.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80% of actual size.)

Go adventuring with a better guide. (tips on local adventuring, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5445-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020



Lively, lucid, and timely.

Updated for a modern audience, the pre-eminent first lady’s views on what government is and does and why having a voice in it all matters.

The female and nonwhite firefighters, garbage collectors, public officials, and jurors in Lin’s bright, racially and gender-diverse illustrations—not to mention references in the narrative to calling 911, to “alderpersons,” and “selectpeople”—were likely not in the original 1932 edition. It’s easy, though, to hear Roosevelt, or at least her voice, in the pellucid descriptions of how local, state, and national governments are organized and the kinds of services they are charged with providing, both in the common-sense tone (“What seems good to you might not be good for the rest of the nation”) and in the inspirational message: “Marking your ballot is one of the most important—and exciting—things you’ll ever do.” Also at least partly new are descriptive notes about each amendment to the Constitution and each position in contemporary presidents’ cabinets, plus an eye-opening explanation of how electoral results can be manipulated through gerrymandering (using “blue” and “purple” voters as examples). Further comments by Roosevelt on citizenship and a brief biography focusing on her causes and character lead in to a short but choice set of more detailed sources of information about her life and work.

Lively, lucid, and timely. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-879-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018


From the So You Want to Be A series

Salutary reading for armchair berserkers and shield maidens.

A handy guide for young readers thinking that life on a longship in pursuit of plunder might be for them.

Prospective Vikings will want to know something of the history and rewards of their calling, and so in this much simplified and newly illustrated version of John Haywood’s Viking, a 2011 title in the Unofficial Manual series, Amson-Bradshaw offers useful features aplenty. These range from thumbnail portraits of Olaf Tryggvason and other renowned Viking leaders to travel articles such as “5 Epic Places To Plunder Before You Die (Violently).” Along the way she also deals out short but rousing disquisitions on battle tactics and berserkers, weapons and gear, seagoing navigation, Viking “healthcare,” and other relevant topics. Akiyama illustrates it all in occasionally gory cartoon drawings with green and gray highlights featuring three modern children—timorous Angus, bloodthirsty Kate (both white), and Eddie, dark skinned and gung-ho—who travel back in time and are squired about by mighty warrior Bjorn and scowling shield maiden Hervor. The same modern trio tries out the life of legionaries in So You Want To Be a Roman Soldier? (2019), which is also recast for younger audiences from an earlier, longer work (Legionary, by Philip Matyszak, 2009) and likewise well stocked with historical people (only slightly more diverse than in …Viking), places, and facts. Both make a career in, say, librarianship, look far more enticing.

Salutary reading for armchair berserkers and shield maidens. (map, index, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65184-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Close Quickview