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Visually stunning and packed with sophisticated language and intrigue, this young sailor’s log is sure to hook any budding...

Nicholas Young, 11, circles the globe in this gorgeously illustrated seafaring adventure loosely based on journals of 18th-century explorer Capt. James Cook.

Seasoned children’s poet Rosen here creates the likable character of young protagonist Nick through spare journal entries describing his travels aboard Cook’s first ship, Endeavour, which set sail from Plymouth, England, on August 19, 1768, on a voyage of over 1,000 days. A young delinquent enlisted to serve aboard this exploratory vessel, Nick chronicles life as Endeavour’s youngest sailor, tasked with menial jobs including care of the ship’s milk goat, Navy. The voyage takes Nick and Cook’s sundry crew of sailors and scientists to then-uncharted "Australis," stopping en route at the Canary Islands, the Equator—where crew members not having crossed before were “thrice dunked” in the sea—and Rio de Janeiro, as the Northern Hemisphere’s summer morphs to the Southern’s snowy winter. Further southwest, Nick is the first to spy New Zealand, where the ship is immediately beset by a rain of spears from the local Maori. Throughout this exotic discovery tale, Pritelli’s finely wrought acrylics capture both the action and the otherworldly allure of strange lands, peoples and endless sea by casting them often in a milky blue, deep and mysterious as Picasso’s.

Visually stunning and packed with sophisticated language and intrigue, this young sailor’s log is sure to hook any budding explorer. (Picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-56846-216-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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From the Mount Rushmore series

Washington remains an historic hero despite flaws and defeats. These are recounted in far more accomplished biographies, and...

By the age of 15, George Washington had written out a list of precepts taught to him by his teachers, the “Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation,” by which he lived and was guided throughout his life.

Excerpts from this little-known historical document appear throughout this stolid picture-book biography of our first president, in which Washington describes some salient details of his life and career in the first person. The rules are worthy, but readers will note that there is usually no relationship between them and the facts presented on the same page. While the volume is stirring, there is no cohesion to the narrative, and it will not even serve report writers, as most dates and events go unmentioned, as do many highlights of Washington’s story. Only the notes to the artwork provide some factual context. Young readers wondering if Washington ever faced any setbacks will find no evidence of them here. What emerges from these pages is a larger-than-life icon with no warts. Wimmer’s paintings are masterful and dramatic, though some seem stiffly posed. The cover portrait is certainly rousing.

Washington remains an historic hero despite flaws and defeats. These are recounted in far more accomplished biographies, and children will be better served by reading about the real man elsewhere. (author’s note, artist’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4169-5482-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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Reductionist history in an unnecessary novelty format.

A miscellaneous collection of factlets about three pre-Columbian civilizations are presented on board pages suggesting a Mesoamerican step pyramid in this latest title in the publisher's “shape book” series.

Each section includes a map and mentions an important archeological site—the Maya Chichén Itzá, the Aztec Templo Mayor and the Inca Machu Picchu—but provides no dates. Readers may be intrigued by Maya beauty ideals, the Aztec ball game and Inca goldwork. Maya and Aztec calendars are shown, as well as pictures of Aztec and Inca warriors and weaponry. Ružicka describes the end of the Aztec and Inca empires at the hands of Spanish conquistadors but ignores the collapse of the Maya. There is a recipe for Maya hot chocolate that neglects to say when the almonds listed in the ingredients should be added and a description of Tenochtitlán that does not mention that it underlies the center of present-day Mexico City. Kleinová’s illustrations range from moderately realistic pictures of people at work and play to cartoonlike glyphs. No sources are actually provided for any of the information or illustrations. Readers curious about this history will find much more in Peter Lourie’s Lost Treasure of the Inca (1999), Mystery of the Maya (2001) and Hidden World of the Aztec (2006).

Reductionist history in an unnecessary novelty format. (Informational novelty. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55407-933-9

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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