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)