Lauber follows up What You Never Knew About Tubs, Toilets, & Showers (2001) with another quick tour through domestic history, taking readers from prehistoric times to campouts and sleepovers, with pauses for glimpses at “Great Moments in Nightclothes” and a recapitulative “Great Moments in Bed History.” Separating the easily digestible passages of text, Manders’s comical, cartoon-style scenes feature figures in historical dress and brief comments in dialogue balloons. Aside from a single reference to “other parts of the world” and a closing vignette of a sleeper on a futon, this presents an entirely Eurocentric picture, and Lauber’s dismissal of the Middle Ages as only a “bridge” between the ancient and modern worlds is a minority view nowadays. But, these glimpses of what people wore, what they slept on and what shared their beds will please casual browsers. Young readers in search of more specific facts will do better with Ruth Freeman Swain’s Bedtime! (1999), illustrated by Cat Bowman Smith. (source list) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2006

ISBN: 0-689-85211-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2006

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As Wild Bill Hickok “says” in his blurb: “Factual as far as it goes.” (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)


From the What If You Met… series

Following other books in the What if You Met…(a Pirate, 2004; a Knight, 2006) series, this title somewhat less successfully tackles the subject of cowboys.

The image of the handsome cowboy idealized in movies, “on the lookout for pretty schoolteachers and Indians on the warpath,” is shattered by Jacob McHugh Peavey, the “real deal,” unwashed and unshaven. Only careful readers will determine that Jake’s heyday was around 1860-1885. He’s white, although Adkins notes that “[a]bout half of [cowboys] are African-American, Indian, or Hispanic.” Cowgirls are dismissed in a side note. Given this limited perspective, youngsters interested in diversity in the Wild West will want to look elsewhere. Those not familiar with the history of Native Americans may require a source to understand potentially confusing descriptions of Franciscan missionaries who introduced horses in the Southwest as “relatively gentle and patient” conquerors who received an assist from European diseases or the “hostile native” tribes or youth that may on occasion pose a threat to Jake. (Source notes—a list of titles consulted—are provided, but there are no specific citations.) However, children enamored of cowboy gear and cattle drives will find a plethora of information about and detailed illustrations of saddles, guns, brands, the chuck wagon and more, each topic covered in one or two pages.

As Wild Bill Hickok “says” in his blurb: “Factual as far as it goes.” (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-149-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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A visually striking and spirited but extremely brief look at the lead up to the Han dynasty.


Two kingdoms battle for control in ancient China.

Approximately 2,000 years ago, China was divided into many warlord-led kingdoms after the fall of the Qin Empire. Two kingdoms emerged as formidable forces: the Chu Kingdom and the Han Kingdom. Years of fighting erupt when the Han Kingdom, ruled by Liu Bang, attacks. Xiang Yu, the Chu Kingdom’s ruler, furiously leads his troops against Liu Bang’s army, but the latter’s superior tactics exhaust the Chu forces. Numbers dwindle, and emotions are tested. In the face of the impending Han victory, Xiang Yu resolutely takes his last stand. The text is sparing with dates and specific locations, and readers will need to pursue other resources for historical context and timeline information. Yu, however, effectively presents a weighty account of the power struggle, particularly Xiang Yu’s “fearless[ness]” in defeat. Illustrations capture the intensity of battle strategy as double-page spreads engulf readers in the action. Faces and body language are expressive, and perspective and angle often highlight the emotional toll of battle. Yu’s illustrations appear to combine traditional paper-cutting techniques with watercolor and ink painting. Occasional elements, such as a crane and tree branches, break the confines of panels.

A visually striking and spirited but extremely brief look at the lead up to the Han dynasty. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6938-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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