A passable introduction to the life of Shah Jahan for lovers of history.

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TAJ MAHAL

AN INCREDIBLE LOVE STORY

From the Campfire Graphic Novels series

Gives readers a glimpse into the story behind one of the world’s most famous monuments and oldest romances—Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb, the Taj Mahal—and the people who built it.

A flashback to 1592 reveals a soothsayer informing the empress of the Mughal Empire that a child destined for greatness will be born into the royal family. Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram is raised by his grandfather, the Emperor Jalal-ud-in Akbar, and Akbar’s first wife, the Empress Ruqaiya Sultan Begum. At the age of 15, Khurram meets and falls in love with Arjumand Banu Begum. Following the soothsayer’s words, Khurram—who later becomes the fifth Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan—waits 5 years to marry his beloved, who comes to be known as Mumtaz Mahal; however, Arjumand becomes his second wife, as Khurram first marries a Persian princess as part of a political alliance. The detailed, full-color illustrations enhance the story with their expressiveness and rich jewel tones, but the narrative itself lacks depth and perspective. More important, the text either ignores or glosses over historic details: Shah Jahan had three wives (the last of whom does not make an appearance), and the laborers, who spend years constructing the Taj Mahal, look upon Shah Jahan as a benevolent ruler.

A passable introduction to the life of Shah Jahan for lovers of history. (historical and biographical notes) (Graphic history. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-93-81182-59-8

Page Count: 118

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy.

BONNIE AND CLYDE

THE MAKING OF A LEGEND

A portrait of two victims of the Great Depression whose taste for guns and fast cars led to short careers in crime but longer ones as legends.

Blumenthal (Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2016, etc.) makes a determined effort to untangle a mare’s nest of conflicting eyewitness accounts, purple journalism, inaccurate police reports, and self-serving statements from relatives and cohorts of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Though the results sometimes read as dry recitations of names and indistinguishable small towns, she makes perceptive guesses about what drove them and why they have become iconic figures, along with retracing their early lives, two-year crime spree, and subsequent transformations into doomed pop-culture antiheroes. She does not romanticize the duo—giving many of their murder victims faces through individual profiles, for instance, and describing wounds in grisly detail—but does convincingly argue that their crimes and characters (particularly Bonnie’s) were occasionally exaggerated. Blumenthal also wrenchingly portrays the desperation that their displaced, impoverished families must have felt while pointedly showing how an overtaxed, brutal legal system can turn petty offenders into violent ones. A full version of Bonnie’s homespun ballad “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” and notes on the subsequent lives of significant relatives, accomplices, and lawmen join meaty lists of sources and interviews at the end.

Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy. (photos, timeline, author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47122-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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It’s a lot to take in at one sitting, but this anatomical extravaganza really gets to the heart of the matter. Not to...

HUMAN BODY THEATER

A theatrical introduction to human anatomy, as well-choreographed as it is informative.

In 11 “Acts” hosted con brio by a skeletal impresario (“Bring out the lungs!”), Wicks parades a revue of body systems across a curtained stage. It’s a full program, with a teeming supporting cast from Dopamine to Diaphragm, Golgi Body to Gastroenteritis joining more-familiar headliners. The presentation opens with a zoom down to the cellular and even molecular levels to lay foundations for later macro and micro views of digestion, infection, and disease. Following this, the five senses (only five), the “dance of the oxygen fairies,” allergic reactions, and other anatomical processes that make up each system’s major components, most sporting cheery emoji-style faces, expressively demonstrate their respective functions. The reproductive system’s named parts deliver a frank but visually discreet turn with descriptions of erections and fertilization but no direct depictions, and it stops with the onset of puberty. The performances are enhanced by labeled diagrams, pitches on relevant topics from the importance of immunization and proper nutrition to synonyms for “fart,” and lists of important words and further resources. A few miscues aside (no, the speed of sound is not invariant), it’s a grand show, with a logically placed intermission following a peek into the bladder and a literal “wrap” at the end as the emcee puts herself together from inside out.

It’s a lot to take in at one sitting, but this anatomical extravaganza really gets to the heart of the matter. Not to mention the guts, nerves, veins, bones…. (glossary, bibliography) (Graphic nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62672-277-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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