Reductionist history in an unnecessary novelty format.

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MAYA, AZTECS AND INCAS

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. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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These short pieces may start young people on the search for more information about these intriguing figures.

LADIES OF LIBERTY

THE WOMEN WHO SHAPED OUR NATION

Highlighting women writers, educators, and reformers from the 18th and early 19th centuries, Roberts brings a group of women, many not so well-known, into focus and provides a new perspective on the early history of the United States in this picture-book version of her adult book of the same title (2008).

The women include Lucy Terry Prince, a persuasive speaker who created the first poem (an oral piece not written down for over 100 years after its creation) by an African-American; Elizabeth Bayley Seton, the first American-born saint and the founder of Catholic institutions including schools, hospitals, and orphanages; and Rebecca Gratz, a young philanthropist who started many organizations to help the Jewish community in Philadelphia. The author usually uses some quotes from primary-source materials and enlivens her text with descriptive events, such as Meriweather Lewis’ citation of Sacagawea’s “equal fortitude” with the males of the exploration party during a storm, saving many supplies when their boat capsized. The sepia-hued pen-and-ink drawings are inspired by the letters of the era, and the soft watercolor portraits of the women and the paintings that reveal more of their stories are traditional in feeling. In her introduction, the author emphasizes the importance of historical materials, such as letters, organizational records, journals, and books written at the time. Despite this, there is no bibliography or other means of sourcing quoted material.

These short pieces may start young people on the search for more information about these intriguing figures. (Informational picture book. 8-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-078005-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history.

JARS OF HOPE

HOW ONE WOMAN HELPED SAVE 2,500 CHILDREN DURING THE HOLOCAUST

The brave work of Irena Sendler, one of the righteous gentiles of World War II, is succinctly depicted in this new picture book.

“There are two kinds of people in this world, good and bad.” As a child, wise words from her father gave Irena a guiding principle to live by and prompted the adult Sendler to find ways to save 2,500 innocent Jewish children and babies from the horror of their Holocaust fate. She worked with a network of smugglers and shelters to hide them in carpentry boxes, vegetable sacks, and laundry piles, transporting them to orphanages and the homes of willing Christian foster families, recording the children’s names so they could be found later and burying her lists in the titular jars. And when she herself was imprisoned by the Nazis, Zegota, the Polish resistance group, bribed guards to free her so she could continue her important work. Digital and traditional art in opaque dark browns and grays illustrates the sinister period and shadowy existence of these saved children. Roy’s chronological narrative concentrates on the period from 1940 to 1944 and stresses Sendler’s heroism; it also includes invented scenes and dialogue, marking it as fiction.

A sensitive, discussable access point for children learning about Holocaust history. (afterword, author’s note, glossary, index, source notes) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62370-425-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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