A handsome overview, parochial for all its chronological scope.

TIMELINE

A VISUAL HISTORY OF OUR WORLD

Carried along on a broad ribbon of time that winds across oversized spreads, thousands of small images re-enact the human story.

Goes, a Belgian illustrator, begins with the Big Bang, but by the fifth spread, Lucy is peeking from behind a tree as Neanderthals stroll through a torch-lit cave. From there, each page turn offers a panoramic view of a whole civilization up through the Middle Ages, a single century from the 14th to the 19th, decades or half-decades post–World War I, and finally a glimpse of the “2010s” that ends with the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Now and then such diversions as “The Aztecs” or “Space travel” offer pauses in the march. The book is highly selective with both the hordes of stylized but recognizable artifacts and historical figures and the buckets of specific facts and dates scattered throughout. Still, the artist resorts to such extremes of compression that Native American cultures are largely distilled to a cluster of teepees around a totem pole near some buffalo, and one crowd listens to both Jimi Hendrix and “black religious leader” Martin Luther King Jr. while watching JFK motor and singing anti-war songs. It’s an ingenious use of space—but with few exceptions, the world beyond Europe and North America barely figures. The absence of an index makes this a browsing item rather than a resource.

A handsome overview, parochial for all its chronological scope. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-776570-69-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

OIL

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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