Beautiful and reverent but perhaps not particularly relevant.



As the subtitle indicates, young bookworms are invited to “Explore the Amazing Collection of the British Library.”

“Explore” is the key word here, as the table of contents lists 21 potential discoveries among the library’s holdings. In its tour, the text capitalizes on the human-interest aspects of the collection, such as the facts that Shakespeare’s First Folio is kept in a bombproof, underground room and that the oldest surviving book produced in Europe, St. Cuthbert’s Gospel, was found in a coffin. Other monuments to the (mostly) English masterworks surveyed include Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species, Handel’s handwritten sheet music, and the original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Questions to readers provide segues from one entry to the next; “Are you hungry after all that drama?” leads them from Shakespeare to the section on cookbooks. The watercolor-and-digital illustrations lend a fanciful, hodgepodge effect to the collection of literary tidbits. Varying typefaces play to the topics, as with the use of a Gothic type for The Canterbury Tales and a delicate scriptlike type for Jane Austen. The book effectively demonstrates the role of the British Library as custodian to a broad swath of British literary history. The question here is, who is the audience on this side of the Atlantic, particularly at a time when concerted efforts are being made to create a more diverse and inclusive canon? The Inside-Outside Book of Libraries, by Julie Cummins and illustrated by Roxie Munro (1996), is a little old but still provides a better introduction to the concept of libraries.

Beautiful and reverent but perhaps not particularly relevant. (thumbnail bios, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9757-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers.



A compendium of paranormal doings, natural horrors, and eerie wonders worldwide and (in several senses) beyond.

Maladroit title aside (“…in Bed” would make more sense, cautionwise), this collection of hauntings, cryptids, natural and historical mysteries, and general titillation (“Vampire bats might be coming for you!”) offers a broad array of reasons to stay wide awake. Arranged in no discernible order the 60-plus entries include ghostly sightings in the White House and various castles, body-burrowing guinea worms, the Nazca lines of Peru, Mothman and Nessie, the hastily abandoned city of Pripyat (which, thanks to the Chernobyl disaster, may be habitable again…in 24,000 years), monarch-butterfly migrations, and diverse rains of fish, frogs, fireballs, and unidentified slime. Each is presented in a busy whirl of narrative blocks, photos, graphics, side comments, and arbitrary “Fright-O-Meter” ratings (Paris’ “Creepy Catacombs” earn just a “4” out of 10 and black holes a “3,” but the aforementioned aerial amphibians a full “10”). The headers tend toward the lurid: “Jelly From Space,” “Zombie Ants,” “Mongolian Death Worm.” Claybourne sprinkles multiple-choice pop quizzes throughout for changes of pace.

A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2841-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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In a large, handsome format, Tarnowska offers six tales plus an abbreviated version of the frame story, retold in formal but contemporary language and sandwiched between a note on the Nights’ place in her childhood in Lebanon and a page of glossary and source notes. Rather than preserve the traditional embedded structure and cliffhanger cutoffs, she keeps each story discrete and tones down the sex and violence. This structure begs the question of why Shahriyar lets Shahrazade [sic] live if she tells each evening’s tale complete, but it serves to simplify the reading for those who want just one tale at a time. Only the opener, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” is likely to be familiar to young readers; in others a prince learns to control a flying “Ebony Horse” by “twiddling” its ears, contending djinn argue whether “Prince Kamar el Zaman [or] Princess Boudour” is the more beautiful (the prince wins) and in a Cinderella tale a “Diamond Anklet” subs for the glass slipper. Hénaff’s stylized scenes of domed cityscapes and turbaned figures add properly whimsical visual notes to this short but animated gathering. (Folktales. 10-12)


Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-122-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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