An adequate survey of the holiday in a pretty package, made a bit more special with its personal touches.




From the Orca Origins series

Readers so inclined can celebrate Christmas anytime with this overview of the holiday’s traditions from past to present.

This exploration of Christmas traditions is separated into three chapters, with accounts from the mother-daughter authorial duo’s personal celebrations interspersed throughout. The first chapter follows Christmas’ origins as a non-Christian early midwinter celebration. Readers learn about ancient Rome’s Saturnalia and ancient Greece’s celebration of Dionysus’ birth. Further travels in the Northern Hemisphere introduce readers to Jesus’ birth and the spread of Christianity throughout Europe and beyond. Despite the Puritans’ attempts to cancel Christmas, it “bounces back.” The book’s second chapter then goes on to chronicle the evolution of modern-day Christmas. The third chapter looks at festivities around the world in a smattering of countries in Asia, South America, Central America, Africa, and Oceania. The large, glossy photos (some from the authors’ lives) show a welcome range of racial representation. Sidebars provide some helpful context and interesting asides, including a handful of recipes. The conversational tone is as delightful and jovial as Santa Claus himself. Unfortunately, that results in a rose-colored view of the spread of Christianity, noting that it simply “traveled along with” colonists.

An adequate survey of the holiday in a pretty package, made a bit more special with its personal touches. (glossary, resources, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1355-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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How and when the Western Hemisphere, particularly North and South America, came to be populated continues to be both mysterious and controversial for scientists. Archaeologists plug away with the tools at their disposal but have “more questions than answers.” Harrison does a good job setting the issue in context. He describes the earliest efforts to identify the original inhabitants of the continents, exploring the Clovis culture, believed by many to be the first humans to reach North America. After clearly explaining how scholars decided that they were first, he then lists the arguments against this hypothesis. In the course of looking at both sides, he introduces young readers to “the strict rules of archaeology.” The author demonstrates the precise work of those attempting to understand the hidden aspects of human history and how many of these old questions are seen in the light of new technologies and discoveries. The narrative is aided by both photographs and original illustrations that imagine scenes from both the distant past and the field experiences. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-561-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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Adults may have to force-feed this purposive book to those not yet committed to the important causes outlined here.



"Organic," "sustainable" and "food miles" all appear in the comprehensive glossary of this book, whose simple title and cover photograph imply a basic approach to the international topic of food.

This very political book, biased toward food equity, explains why certain foods are eaten in certain countries and why school lunches are important. They fill various needs, from the teaching of courtesy and table manners in France and Japan to the supply of basic nutrients for Somali children in refugee-camp schools. Efforts to improve children’s eating habits, curb obesity, encourage use of local crops and provide food to students with limited economic resources are discussed. As the book is from Canada, naturally there are some references to that country in many of the comparisons. Though published in a seemingly picture-book format, the text is complex. Most two-page spreads describe school lunchtime in an individual country, with a cartoonish illustration on the left and a large photograph of a typical meal on the right with numbered arrows pointing to particular elements. Lengthy captions are keyed to each number. Small globe images in each spread point out countries, but larger maps and a bibliography would be useful. “The Message to Parents, Teachers and Students” provides project ideas.

Adults may have to force-feed this purposive book to those not yet committed to the important causes outlined here. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-88995-482-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Red Deer Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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