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Weak in visuals and science, but fascinating for suggestible sorts.

Facts and fancied qualities associated with 21 birthstones commonly included on current U.S. lists.

Marsh readily admits that the idea of birthstones is ancient and has crossed cultures, but she sticks to what she claims is a standard list developed by this country’s Jewelry Industry Council and last updated in 2016. For each entry, she offers a few bits of information about where the gems are mined and what they look like; the latter is necessary because instead of photos, readers get only painted representations carved and in the rough along with occasional simplified images of bejeweled crowns or other artifacts. Mineralogy and actual mining procedures get spare attention, though the author does acknowledge the existence of “blood” or “conflict” diamonds. Sections of historical anecdotes and superstitious beliefs from “ancient times” then follow, preceding lists of “Uses”—not in, say, industry or fashion but as talismans: “Wearing garnets is believed to inspire a sense of self-confidence.” “Some believe that diamond can clear glaucoma.” “Gray moonstone is believed to help increase a person’s psychic abilities.” Skeptical readers may want to acquire some sardonyx, citrine, turquoise, or black tourmaline, any of which “clears away negative thoughts,” before taking any of this seriously. Webb adds assorted flowers, unidentified human figures (some of whom are people of color), and other vignettes as spot art filler.

Weak in visuals and science, but fascinating for suggestible sorts. (selected sources) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7624-7929-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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The author of the award-winning Mummies & Their Mysteries (1993) returns to the intriguing subject of mummies. Here she explains how they are formed, how scientists use a variety of sophisticated techniques to learn about peoples and cultures of long ago, and some of the controversies surrounding the study of human remains. As with the previous title, the photographs presented here are striking, from the Inca child who appears on the front cover, to the mummy of Egyptian King Seti I, which appears on the back. Other photographs show some of the first tattoos, details of the Iceman, an Italian child who died of smallpox 400 years ago, the remains of light-haired Caucasian mummies from Xinjiang, China, and the well-preserved bodies of Philip Calvert, governor of Maryland from 1660 to 1661. The science is impressive, as carbon-14 dating, CT scans, DNA profiling, and X-rays are used to solve ancient mysteries. What were the people like? What did they eat? When did they die? What caused their death? What were the diseases they suffered? The author also discusses the controversies as different cultures clash over studying human remains. She mentions the Native American Graves Protection and Reparation Act which gives Native Americans control over native remains buried on government land or held in collections owned or funded by the government, and discusses former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s, efforts to house Egyptian mummies in a more dignified way. Though Wilcox discusses respect for the dead, she nonetheless pictures the controversial “Human Body Art” of German artist Gunther von Hagens, and “Sylvester,” a mummy used to greet customers in a shop in Seattle. Also pictured are the remains of an outlaw put on display for 65 years as a moneymaking exhibit for a funeral parlor. The author concludes with a glossary, extensive bibliography including Web sites, and a detailed index. Intriguing science, dramatically presented. (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2000

ISBN: 1-57505-428-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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An introduction to ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings. The authors begin with how archaeologist Howard Carter found the tomb of King Tut, then move back 3,000 years to the time of Thutmosis I, who built the first tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Finally they describe the building of the tomb of a later Pharaoh, Ramses II. The backward-forward narration is not always easy to follow, and the authors attribute emotions to the Pharaohs without citation. For example, “Thutmosis III was furious [with Hatshepsut]. He was especially annoyed that she planned to be buried in KV 20, the tomb of her father.” Since both these people lived 3,500 years ago, speculation on who was furious or annoyed should be used with extreme caution. And the tangled intrigue of Egyptian royalty is not easily sorted out in so brief a work. Throughout, though, there are spectacular photographs of ancient Egyptian artifacts, monuments, tomb paintings, jewels, and death masks that will appeal to young viewers. The photographs of the exposed mummies of Ramses II, King Tut, and Seti I are compelling. More useful for the hauntingly beautiful photos than the text. (brief bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7922-7223-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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