LIFE

THE FIRST FOUR BILLION YEARS: THE STORY OF LIFE FROM THE BIG BANG TO THE EVOLUTION OF HUMANS

A family story over 4 billion years in the making in a suitably ambitious format.

Grand in scope, art, and trim size, a panoramic survey of this planet’s residents from earliest prokaryotes to our species’ first direct ancestors.

Opening with an enormous double gatefold headed “Here Comes the Sun,” Jenkins’ account begins at the beginning (when, as he puts it, “something happened”) and ends with the split 5 or 6 million years ago that led to chimpanzees down one line and humans down the other. In between, it presents the history of living things within a framework of extinction events, ice ages, and other climate-related shifts. Into this admirably coherent view of current thinking about our planet’s deep past he also crams technical nomenclature (“Among the new kinds of animals on land were different synapsid and sauropsid amniotes”), which, along with all the equally polysyllabic identifiers accompanying the illustrations, should delight young sesquipedalians. Baker-Smith’s paintings, a gore-free mix of full-spread color scenes and sepia or graphite galleries of individual figures, show off his versatility—some exhibiting close attention to fine detail, others being nearly abstract, and all (particularly an armored marine Dunkleosteus on the attack and a Tyrannosaurus that is all teeth, feathery mane, and wild eyes) demonstrating a real flair for drama. Design trumps legibility for a few passages that are printed in smaller type on dark or variegated backdrops.

A family story over 4 billion years in the making in a suitably ambitious format. (glossary, timelines) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0420-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick Studio

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

GIVE ME LIBERTY!

THE STORY OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

If Freedman wrote the history textbooks, we would have many more historians. Beginning with an engrossing description of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, he brings the reader the lives of the American colonists and the events leading up to the break with England. The narrative approach to history reads like a good story, yet Freedman tucks in the data that give depth to it. The inclusion of all the people who lived during those times and the roles they played, whether small or large are acknowledged with dignity. The story moves backwards from the Boston Tea Party to the beginning of the European settlement of what they called the New World, and then proceeds chronologically to the signing of the Declaration. “Your Rights and Mine” traces the influence of the document from its inception to the present ending with Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The full text of the Declaration and a reproduction of the original are included. A chronology of events and an index are helpful to the young researcher. Another interesting feature is “Visiting the Declaration of Independence.” It contains a short review of what happened to the document in the years after it was written, a useful Web site, and a description of how it is displayed and protected today at the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. Illustrations from the period add interest and detail. An excellent addition to the American history collection and an engrossing read. (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1448-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

Categories:

MUMMIES OF THE PHARAOHS

EXPLORING THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS

An introduction to ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings. The authors begin with how archaeologist Howard Carter found the tomb of King Tut, then move back 3,000 years to the time of Thutmosis I, who built the first tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Finally they describe the building of the tomb of a later Pharaoh, Ramses II. The backward-forward narration is not always easy to follow, and the authors attribute emotions to the Pharaohs without citation. For example, “Thutmosis III was furious [with Hatshepsut]. He was especially annoyed that she planned to be buried in KV 20, the tomb of her father.” Since both these people lived 3,500 years ago, speculation on who was furious or annoyed should be used with extreme caution. And the tangled intrigue of Egyptian royalty is not easily sorted out in so brief a work. Throughout, though, there are spectacular photographs of ancient Egyptian artifacts, monuments, tomb paintings, jewels, and death masks that will appeal to young viewers. The photographs of the exposed mummies of Ramses II, King Tut, and Seti I are compelling. More useful for the hauntingly beautiful photos than the text. (brief bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7922-7223-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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