With help from a CD-sized cardboard decoder disk, young archaeologists can discover for themselves that the ancient Atlantean language was actually English.

Threaded together along a thin and thoroughly predictable plotline involving a fictional 19th-century submarine expedition to the Mediterranean, this low-budget item assembles a hodgepodge of facts about Minoans and mazes, underwater archaeology, mapmaking history and theories about Atlantis. It lays these out along with easily spotted “clues” to the legendary island’s location on old documents and artifacts. Many of said clues are short messages slightly hidden behind a substitution code that uses modified Roman capitals. Exceptionally lazy readers can skip to the end to find the translations, along with solutions to other conundrums posed during the expedition’s contrived misadventures. Printed on heavy stock with an occasional side flap, the spreads all offer a visual jumble of narrative blocks, small historical images, photos of live models in period dress and new art to fill in the gaps.

Undisguised ephemera. (Novelty. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6680-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Chortleworthy at first glance, disturbingly superficial at second and subsequent ones.


From the Jurassic Classics series

Six presidents of our Holocene epoch pair up with prehistoric predecessors, from George Washingdonyx to Franklin D. Rex.

Following the format of The Prehistoric Masters of Literature (2016), Lacey matches a dino-bio that comes with an attached booklet containing further details to a profile of a historical chief executive from the (considerably) more recent past. Though millions of years separate the administrations of each couple, there are remarkable parallels: Thomas Jeffersaurus drafted a “Declaration of In-dino-pendence,” and Franklin D. Rex crafted a New Deal for those afflicted by the Great Ice Age. It’s a clever premise—but the author’s efforts to accentuate the positive for each president lead her into some troublesome territory. She trumpets Andrew Jaxceratops/Jackson’s “passion for democracy” while staying silent about his treatment of Native Americans, for instance, and makes no mention of slavery either until noting that (in an infelicitous choice of words) Abraham Lincolnator “freed millions of creatures.” The Winning of the West may not be the best choice to represent Theodore Rexevelt’s publications either, considering that work’s rabid cultural imperialism. For all that they’re uniformly green of skin, the dignitaries in Isik’s cartoon portraits generally resemble their modern white (mostly) counterparts, except in a gallery of additional proto-presidents where “Obamasaurus” has thick lips (wrong in more ways than one).

Chortleworthy at first glance, disturbingly superficial at second and subsequent ones. (list of presidents) (Informational novelty. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-109-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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An inventive introduction to a fascinating historical figure.



Another collaborative effort by the team that created The Poet King of Tezcoco: A Great Leader of Ancient Mexico (2007) chronicles the life of a controversial figure in pre-colonial Mesoamerica.

The indigenous woman who would serve as Hernán Cortés’ interpreter and companion was born in the early 1500s as Malinali and later christened Marina. She is now called La Malinche. Besides serving as translator to the Spaniard, she also gave him advice on native customs, religious beliefs and the ways of the Aztec. While Marina’s decision to help the Spanish in their often brutal quest for supremacy has led to many negative associations, others see her as the mother of all Mexicans, as she and Cortés had the first recorded mestizo. Although many of the details surrounding the specifics of Marina’s life were unrecorded, Serrano strengthens the narrative with quotations by her contemporaries and provides a balanced look at the life of a complicated, oft-maligned woman. Headers provide structure as events sometimes shift from the specific to the very broad, and some important facts are glossed over or relegated to the timeline. Reminiscent of pre-colonial documents, the illustrations convey both Marina’s adulation of Cortés and the violence of the Spanish conquest, complete with severed limbs, decapitations and more.

An inventive introduction to a fascinating historical figure. (map, chronology, glossary, sources and further reading) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55498-111-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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