The tradition of mazes and labyrinths hearkens back to ancient times, and a multitude of examples can be found throughout the world, made from a range of materials and serving a variety of purposes. This absorbing picture book travels to Western Europe, Africa and the Americas, detailing and illustrating the locations, construction and uses of the various mazes. Mazes discussed include the Egyptian Labyrinth, which was built of stone more than 2,000 years ago to cover funeral vaults; the tile mazes of France, which substituted for pilgrimages; the labyrinth patterns used on some Native American baskets and carvings, which convey mythological elements; and South Africa’s modern hedge maze, which features a cornucopia of plants and depicts local folktales. Lankford, maven of multicultural entertainments, surveys many historical and current examples and provides fascinating snippets of information on each one. Colorful illustrations depict the different mazes in action and highlight both differences and similarities. Includes an author’s note, mazes to unravel (with a finger rather than a pencil) and additional maze-related information. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-688-16519-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Collins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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Go adventuring with a better guide.


From the The 50 States series

Find something to do in every state in the U.S.A.!

This guide highlights a location of interest within each of the states, therefore excluding Washington, D.C., and the territories. Trivia about each location is scattered across crisply rendered landscapes that background each state’s double-page spread while diminutive, diverse characters populate the scenes. Befitting the title, one “adventure” is presented per state, such as shrimping in Louisiana’s bayous, snowshoeing in Connecticut, or celebrating the Fourth of July in Boston. While some are stereotypical gimmes (surfing in California), others have the virtue of novelty, at least for this audience, such as viewing the sandhill crane migration in Nebraska. Within this thematic unity, some details go astray, and readers may find themselves searching in vain for animals mentioned. The trivia is plentiful but may be misleading, vague, or incorrect. Information about the Native American peoples of the area is often included, but its brevity—especially regarding sacred locations—means readers are floundering without sufficient context. The same is true for many of the facts that relate directly to expansion and colonialism, such as the unexplained near extinction of bison. Describing the genealogical oral history of South Carolina’s Gullah community as “spin[ning] tales” is equally brusque and offensive. The book tries to do a lot, but it is more style than substance, which may leave readers bored, confused, slightly annoyed—or all three. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12.2-by-20.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80% of actual size.)

Go adventuring with a better guide. (tips on local adventuring, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5445-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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The actual visuals could be livelier, but younger readers after a mental big picture of the struggle will be well served.


From the If You Lived series

An overview of the war’s course, cost, and immediate aftermath.

This latest in the relaunch of the If You Lived series follows the question-and-answer format of If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War (1994) by Kay Moore, illustrated by Anni Matsick, and covers similar subject matter, though with updated language (enslaved people rather than slaves ) and different questions. Patrick answers questions such as “Did Abraham Lincoln own enslaved people?” and “Did women fight in the Civil War?” He didn’t, they of course did…and along with hundreds of women, Patrick notes, Native Americans of several named nations also fought, on both sides. Though she is wrong in claiming that the fate of the submarine Hunley remains unknown (the wreckage was discovered in 1995), in general her accounts of the war’s major causes, campaigns, and effects on daily life are accurate if broadly brushed, and her expanded coverage of Reconstruction adds historical context that Moore’s work lacked. With a few exceptions, Harris goes for depictions of generic, stolid-looking light- or dark-skinned soldiers and civilians rather than specific portraits. There are no source or resource lists, but a few small maps and stylized battle scenes are interspersed.

The actual visuals could be livelier, but younger readers after a mental big picture of the struggle will be well served. (glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-71280-3

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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