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

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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Cogent of topic, but for readability, it’s aptly titled.

RUNNING DRY

THE GLOBAL WATER CRISIS

In urgent tones, a call for action as climate change and continuing waste and pollution of available fresh water pose imminent threats to human health and agriculture.

Drawing from recently published reports and news stories, Kallen paints an alarming picture. Aquifers are being sucked dry by large-scale agriculture, lake levels are falling, and water sources above- and belowground are being polluted. Though he points to a few significant counterefforts—the Clean Water Act (1972) in the United States and local initiatives elsewhere, such as “rainwater harvesting” ponds in India and Kenya—these come off as spotty responses that are often hobbled by political and corporate foot-dragging. He also points to shrinking glaciers and snow packs (plus, for added gloom, superstorms like Sandy) as harbingers of climate change that will lead to widespread future disaster. Aside from occasional incidents or examples and rare if telling photos, though, this jeremiad is largely composed of generalities and big numbers—not a formula for motivating young readers. Nor does the author offer budding eco-activists much in the way of either hope or ways to become part of the solution; for the latter, at least, Cathryn Berger Kaye’s Going Blue: A Teens Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands (2010) is a better choice.

Cogent of topic, but for readability, it’s aptly titled. (source notes, multimedia resource lists, index) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2646-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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A bare-bones introduction for readers without a pre-existing interest.

CYBER ATTACK

A quick history of hacking, from the “phone phreaks” of the 1960s to today’s attacks on commercial data stores large and small.

Drawing solely from previously published reports and documents, the authors paint an alarming picture (“The internet has become a cyber criminal playground”) as they trace the growth of increasingly sophisticated digital attacks on personal, corporate and government data systems. Though they rightly point out that many hackers, from early “phreaks” like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak on, have been motivated more by the pleasures of creating software or high-tech gear (or, as they acknowledge in the case of Edward Snowden, idealism) than criminal intent, most of the incidents they describe involve theft or espionage. Noting that attacks can come from anywhere in the world and that malware can be secretly installed not just on computers, but on any number of gadgets, the authors project little hope of keeping our information safe from bad guys. Nor do they offer more than, at best, bare mention of firewalls, encryption, two-step verification, strong passwords and other protective countermeasures. Still, readers will at least come away more aware of the range of hazards, from phishing and ransomware to botnets and distributed denial of service, as well as the huge, rapidly increasing amounts of money and data shadowy entities are raking in.

A bare-bones introduction for readers without a pre-existing interest. (source notes, bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2512-5

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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