CALIFORNIA HISTORY FOR KIDS

MISSIONS, MINORS, AND MOVIEMAKERS IN THE GOLDEN STATE

From the For Kids series

The title says it all, almost, about "The Golden State," from early history to the near-present.

Covering many topics with sidebars and illustrations to supplement the main text, as well as supplying 21 activities, largely crafts, such a book might be used as a text for elementary-school classes. But there are many elements that weaken its usefulness. The inclusion of facts seems scattershot; for instance, the book contains a "California First Facts" that lists the "Number of Dentist Offices (2008)" but does not mention the state flower, state bird, state animal or state flag—surely of more use and interest to students than dentists. Throughout, information is abbreviated and feels dumbed down, though the author has been fair in discussing issues about Junípero Serra, the internment of Japanese-Americans, the anti-foreigner laws during the Gold Rush and after, the treatment of minorities and the destruction of native populations by Anglo and Spanish invaders. But without a tribal map, how can readers know what areas the Maidu or Kashia or Coast Miwok or Ohlone inhabited? Without a general state map and/or textual description, how can readers know what areas are covered by geographical terms such as northern, southern or central California? As for the activities, they are poorly planned and do little to enhance the straightforward (one might say dull) prose. 

Caveat emptor. (bibliography, websites, index [not seen]) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-56976-532-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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IF YOU LIVED DURING THE PLIMOTH THANKSGIVING

A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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