This rogues’ gallery of bottom feeders makes an appealing way to bring reluctant readers to history.

OUTLAWS, SPIES, AND GANGSTERS

CHASING NOTORIOUS CRIMINALS

How a disparate bunch of “most-wanted” criminals were tracked down, even if the tracking took days, weeks, or years and years.

Scandiffio brings an unhurried, smooth and just-portentous-enough tone to the brought-to-justice stories of eight criminal characters that most every adult (though maybe not that many children) has heard of, from John Dillinger to Christopher “Dudus” Coke of Jamaica, Manuel Noriega to Osama bin Laden. Each miscreant’s last hours are chronicled, but so is a reasonably significant slice of history, often in boxed asides, lending a sense of immediacy and context to the action. She also pays attention to local color (except she doesn’t mention the “Lady in Red,” certainly local color to the nth degree in the gunning down of John Dillinger). There is an obvious disconnect between someone like Dillinger and the mousy spy Aldrich Ames or Vladimir Levin, a cyberthief at great remove from his loot, but there is also no sense of romanticism here, a suitable choice, as counted in this number are Adolf Eichmann and bin Laden. It is good to have this selection from around the world, not singling out some poor neighborhood or region, and the artwork lends a burly, yeomanly quality of hard work to the captors, just as it details the evolution of tracking through the century.

This rogues’ gallery of bottom feeders makes an appealing way to bring reluctant readers to history. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55451-621-6

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A great collection of harrowing, true survivor stories.

SURVIVORS

A large-format hardcover gathers together true stories of adventure and survival.

Two that are well-known, at least to adults, are Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition and the ordeal of Aron Ralston, who cut off his own arm with a dull pocketknife in order to extricate himself from a dislodged boulder that trapped him in a narrow canyon, the subject of the film 127 Hours. Lesser known is the story of Poon Lim, who survived 133 days alone in the South Atlantic when the merchant ship he was serving on was sunk by a U-boat. At one point, he caught a shark several feet long, pulled it aboard his raft, beat it to death, and proceeded to suck its blood and eat it raw for nourishment. Seventeen-year-old Juliane Koepcke, the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Peruvian rain forest, relied on survival lessons taught by her parents. During her nine-day ordeal, she poured gasoline on her wounds, which succeeded in removing 35 maggots from one arm. In a skiing accident, Anna Bågenholm was trapped under freezing water for so long her heart stopped. Four hours later, medics managed to warm her blood enough to revive her. The attractive design features a full-page or double-page–spread color illustration depicting a pivotal moment in each well-told story. Entirely absent are such standard features as table of contents, source notes, bibliography, or index, pegging this as an entertainment resource only.

A great collection of harrowing, true survivor stories. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-571-31601-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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MAMMOTH BONES AND BROKEN STONES

THE MYSTERY OF NORTH AMERICA'S FIRST PEOPLE

How and when the Western Hemisphere, particularly North and South America, came to be populated continues to be both mysterious and controversial for scientists. Archaeologists plug away with the tools at their disposal but have “more questions than answers.” Harrison does a good job setting the issue in context. He describes the earliest efforts to identify the original inhabitants of the continents, exploring the Clovis culture, believed by many to be the first humans to reach North America. After clearly explaining how scholars decided that they were first, he then lists the arguments against this hypothesis. In the course of looking at both sides, he introduces young readers to “the strict rules of archaeology.” The author demonstrates the precise work of those attempting to understand the hidden aspects of human history and how many of these old questions are seen in the light of new technologies and discoveries. The narrative is aided by both photographs and original illustrations that imagine scenes from both the distant past and the field experiences. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-561-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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