Not even close to nearly complete, this oversized browsers' book nevertheless presents a huge smorgasbord of human invention, with histories of the earth and of life as hors d'oeuvres. Arranged in spreads, each with four strips of small full-color illustrations over four- or five-line running captions, there's something for almost everyone: dinosaurs, homes and other buildings, clothing (over a hundred tiny figures, sporting animal skins to denim), weapons, means of communication, medical and manufacturing techniques, and page after page of ground, air, and space vehicles. A biographical index rounds on the volume. Conventional depictions and points of view give the art a drably functional look that doesn't measure up in visual impact to works such as the Eyewitness Visual Dictionaries, and though Platt (Stephen Biesty's Incredible Cross-Sections: Castle, 1994, etc.) injects a little wit (``In the beginning a journey meant two things, both of them feet''), his bits of fact and historical context soon begin to wear. The cheeky title and breadth of coverage give this an immediate appeal that is also likely to be ephemeral. (index) (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 1995

ISBN: 0-7894-0206-8

Page Count: 76

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1995

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Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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A pleasing new picture book looks at George Washington’s career through an agricultural lens. Sprinkling excerpts from his letters and diaries throughout to allow its subject to speak in his own voice, the narrative makes a convincing case for Washington’s place as the nation’s First Farmer. His innovations, in addition to applying the scientific method to compost, include a combination plow-tiller-harrow, the popularization of the mule and a two-level barn that put horses to work at threshing grain in any weather. Thomas integrates Washington’s military and political adventures into her account, making clear that it was his frustration as a farmer that caused him to join the revolutionary cause. Lane’s oil illustrations, while sometimes stiff, appropriately portray a man who was happiest when working the land. Backmatter includes a timeline, author’s notes on both Mount Vernon and Washington the slaveholder, resources for further exploration and a bibliography. (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59078-460-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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