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



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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Satisfying fare for the culturally myopic.



Unusual for its ambition if nothing else, this selective encyclopedia of “world” historical, cultural and scientific highlights offers at least a few unexpected choices but rarely looks beyond Europe and North America.

Arranged in chronological order, the 180 entries begin with the appearance of the first humans (“descended from apes,” as the authors inaccurately put it) about 6 million years ago and end with the 2011 earthquake near Japan. In between, they cover inventions from the plow to MP3 files, people from Confucius to Barack Obama, and events of diverse scale, from the “Rise of Greece” to the publication of the first Harry Potter book. Entries fill up a third of a page to a full spread; each features a date (with “BCE” appended for all before the year 1, justified by the optimistic claim that “it is acceptable to all peoples”), and most include both an informally drawn watercolor illustration and a quick, boxed comment on historical “ripples” that spread from the event or invention. This Canadian publication’s focus on its own national history is so close (not to mention Eurocentric: “1608: Champlain establishes permanent settlement in Canada”) that the American Civil War gets just two quick mentions—which is more notice than most African, Asian and Indian histories or cultures receive.

Satisfying fare for the culturally myopic. (index, no bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-775-4

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct.



An illustrated overview of life’s history on Earth, moving backward from now to its beginnings 3.5 billion years ago.

Zoehfeld begins with the present epoch, using the unofficial Anthropocene moniker, then skips back 12,000 years to the beginning of the Holocene and so back by periods to the Ediacaran and its predecessors, with pauses along the way to marvel at the widespread End-Cretaceous and End-Permian extinctions. Along with offering general observations about each time’s climate and distinctive biota, she occasionally veers off for glances at climate change, food webs, or other tangential topics. In each chapter she also identifies several creatures of the era that Csotonyi illustrates, usually but not always with photographic precision in scenes that are long on action but mostly light on visible consumption or gore. If some of the landscape views are on the small side, they do feature arresting portraits of, for instance, a crocodilian Smilosuchus that seems to be 100% toothy maw and a pair of early rodents resembling fierce, horned guinea pigs dubbed Ceratogaulus. Though largely a gimmick—the chapters are independent, organized internally from early to late, and could be reshuffled into conventional order with little or no adjustment to the narrative—the reverse-time arrangement does afford an unusual angle on just how far deep time extends.

Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912920-05-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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