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Before pioneers cut roads through wildernesses, rivers carried people across the continent. The Roops become river guides here, taking readers on the Hudson, the Ohio, the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Rio Grande, the Colorado and the Columbia rivers. Each river gets its own photo-essay, complete with maps, prints, photographs and paintings. Much of the colorful history of the nation is linked to rivers: Indians and explorers; Rip Van Winkle, Mike Fink and Johnny Appleseed; the Revolutionary War and the Civil War; the Erie Canal and the Hoover Dam. Dip in anywhere in the volume and follow a water route through American history, learning much about culture, geography and the growth of the nation along the way. The attractive format is supplemented by a thorough bibliography and a list of websites. Excellent for research or for browsing. (afterword) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59078-430-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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

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. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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From the Great Documents Collection series

A hardworking addition to U.S. history shelves.

In 1776, some of the most respected men in Great Britain’s American Colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, a revolutionary—but not necessarily transparent—document.

Although the declaration is one of the key documents of American history, its sometimes-archaic language may mystify young citizens of the 21st century. After a few pages of introductory information that describes the conflicts faced by colonists before the Revolutionary War, this effort presents the declaration line by line, explaining the concepts, defining confusing words and ideas, and illuminating the intent of the signers in the context of the time. Occasionally, in sections headed “Think Deeper,” the author asks pointed, thoughtful questions on a variety of issues that have never been fully resolved in the past 245 years, without devolving into revisionist history. The format places original text on verso with the translation on recto, but clever design keeps readers engaged. The double-page spreads are neatly laid out, many including portraits of Founding Fathers presented against appealing, brightly colored backgrounds that vary from spread to spread. A variety of maps, cartoon characters, and period illustrations extend the text. With a reading level appropriate to the upper grade schoolers who are often introduced to this tumultuous period of history, this engaging and surprisingly entertaining effort seems like the perfect choice to accompany and expand lesson plans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A hardworking addition to U.S. history shelves. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-638190-48-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Bushel & Peck Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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