In a brisk overview of one of the most progressive 50-year spans in human history that aims to be both entertaining and instructive, Winslow presents brief, highly illustrated portrayals of 12 major explorers, from Columbus’s first voyage in 1492 to Cabrillo’s in 1542. Front matter includes details of Columbus’s Niña and a group picture of all 12 men lined up in no particular order. Back matter illustrates typical ships’ stores and navigational instruments. Each explorer gets a concise double-page treatment that highlights his major achievements and a map of his voyage of exploration. With these exceptions, the type of information provided changes somewhat from explorer to explorer, which can be regarded as a weakness in consistency or an asset to engaging variety. Information, some pertinent and important and some merely entertaining trivia, is given in both text and sidebars. Each map contains an inset showing a detail of the area of the New World explored. Most show merely the direction from which the explorer sailed rather than that voyage’s point of origin, and often simply trace the journey taken once the New World is reached. Most maps trace the voyages of other explorers, which gives a sense of the interconnectedness of this short but seismic period during which explorers were often aware of each other and their achievements. The most interesting maps contain sidebars of information about the events within the voyage itself. There is recognition of the often-disastrous impact of European contact on existing societies. Although Winslow’s trademark cartoon style does not pretend to portraiture, the presentation of indigenous peoples is somewhat homogeneous as they are depicted in feathered headdress and loin cloth with, for the most part, bland, pleasant expressions. Although there is an index, this would be more useful and successful when viewed as an enjoyable introduction to the era than as an aide to report-writing. (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-027759-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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This lighthearted addition to the STEM shelf encourages children to question, hypothesize, experiment, and observe.


From the Joulia Copernicus series

In a confident first-person narrative, young scientist Joulia Copernicus debunks the story that Columbus “proved Earth is round.”

Informing readers that Columbus knew this fact, and so did most people of his time, Joulia also points out that “Ancient Greek, Islamic, and Indian scholars theorized that Earth was round WAY before Columbus’s time.” Confident Joulia explains how Columbus, shown as a haughty captain in the humorous, cartoon illustrations, and his fellow mariners confirmed Earth was round by discerning “that when ships sail away from you, they seem to disappear from the bottom. When they sail toward you, they appear from the top. On a flat Earth, you’d see the entire ship the entire time.” The accompanying illustrations, almost like animation cels, provide the visuals readers need to confirm these assertions. Joulia also turns to astronomy. A lunar eclipse is the highlight of a double-page spread with a large yellow sun, a personified blue and green Earth wearing sunglasses, and the moon moving in iterations through the Earth’s shadow. This shows readers that the Earth’s shadow is “ROUND!” Joulia has straight, brown hair and pale skin and is almost always the only human in any given illustration. It’s great to see a young woman scientist, but it’s too bad there’s not more diversity around her. Two experiments stimulate further exploration.

This lighthearted addition to the STEM shelf encourages children to question, hypothesize, experiment, and observe. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63592-128-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: StarBerry Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet...


A Jewish immigrant from Russia gives America some of its most iconic and beloved songs.

When Israel Baline was just 5 years old, his family fled pogroms in the Russian Empire and landed in New York City’s Lower East Side community. In the 1890s the neighborhood was filled with the sights, smells, and, most of all, sounds of a very crowded but vibrant community of poor Europeans who sailed past the Statue of Liberty in New York’s harbor to make a new life. Israel, who later became Irving Berlin, was eager to capture those sounds in music. He had no formal musical training but succeeded grandly by melding the rich cantorial music of his father with the spirit of America. Churnin’s text focuses on Berlin’s early years and how his mother’s words were an inspiration for “God Bless America.” She does not actually refer to Berlin as Jewish until her author’s note. Sanchez’s digital illustrations busily fill the mostly dark-hued pages with angular faces and the recurring motif of a very long swirling red scarf, worn by Berlin throughout. Librarians should note that the CIP information and the timeline are on pages pasted to the inside covers.

A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet home.” (author’s note, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-939547-44-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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