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From the World of Tens series

A well-turned, involving introduction to important waterways on six of the seven continents.

Ten great rivers (well, 11, but two are kissing cousins)—and not just the obvious ones—give Peters a chance to fashion 10 fine stories.

The rivers are the Tigris and Euphrates, Nile, Rhine, Amazon, Zambezi, Thames, Mississippi, Ganges, Yangtze, and Awash (which, by the way, is the second largest river in Ethiopia); each has much on offer for good storytelling. Peters keeps the narrative accessible and lively—there are lots of boxed items and much shifting of gears. Rivers tell us much about ourselves (between their banks lies the cradle of civilization, after all), and Peters freely ranges to tap all their mystery and social import: piracy, great aqueducts, Hammurabi’s Code, the birth of jazz, pilgrimages, diseases, colonial malfeasance, poisonous caterpillars. She also cautions that as much as rivers promise, they are fickle creatures. Take the great Harappan Empire on the Indus River. The Harappan Empire? What Harappan Empire? Exactly. Numerous photographs, both contemporary and archival, allow for an intimacy with each river, and where there is no photographic evidence (as with the pharaohs and early-19th-century mudlarks along the Thames, for instance), Rosen obligingly paints the picture in striking colors. More captions would have been helpful, as would identifying which was the Euphrates and which the Tigris on the map of their courses—small grouses in an otherwise crack effort.

A well-turned, involving introduction to important waterways on six of the seven continents. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-55451-739-8

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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

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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Bial (A Handful of Dirt, p. 299, etc.) conjures up ghostly images of the Wild West with atmospheric photos of weathered clapboard and a tally of evocative names: Tombstone, Deadwood, Goldfield, Progress, Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickock, the OK Corral. Tracing the life cycle of the estimated 30,000 ghost towns (nearly 1300 in Utah alone), he captures some echo of their bustling, rough-and-tumble past with passages from contemporary observers like Mark Twain: “If a man wanted a fight on his hands without any annoying delay, all he had to do was appear in public in a white shirt or stove-pipe hat, and he would be accommodated.” Among shots of run-down mining works, dusty, deserted streets, and dark eaves silhouetted against evening skies, Bial intersperses 19th-century photos and prints for contrast, plus an occasional portrait of a grizzled modern resident. He suggests another sort of resident too: “At night that plaintive hoo-hoo may be an owl nesting in a nearby saguaro cactus—or the moaning of a restless ghost up in the graveyard.” Children seeking a sense of this partly mythic time and place in American history, or just a delicious shiver, will linger over his tribute. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-06557-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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