Readers hoping for alternatives to the dominant narratives will not find them here.

Factoids about various “races” across time.

Across 46 double-page spreads, readers learn about international “races” that cover a range of topics, from actual contests such as the Olympic Games and the Tour de France to general firsts, such as to the top of Mount Everest and to discover radiation. Along the way, facts and information are dolloped out in small paragraphs that stimulate and tease readers’ interest. Sadly, the teasing happens too frequently, and information is provided with little context or supplemental information. For example, readers learn that two forerunners to the bicycle were the draisine and the penny farthing. But the draisine looks like a modern bicycle without pedals while the penny farthing is a vastly different (and scarier-looking) conveyance. What prompted the design of the penny farthing? The Eurocentric focus of the book is a significantly larger flaw, as White faces and White achievements dominate the facts and illustrations. Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay is appropriately given equal visual and textual focus to Edmund Hillary, a White New Zealander, but Japanese climber Junko Tabei, the first woman to summit Everest, is depicted fully covered behind snow goggles and oxygen mask in a far corner of the page. Likewise, the information about Africa focuses textually and visually on David Livingstone, and the only Indigenous Africans depicted are early Homo sapiens dressed in stereotypical animal furs. Figures highlighted in the science section include Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Isaac Newton—it’s the same old, same old. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.8-by-19.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 81% of actual size.)

Readers hoping for alternatives to the dominant narratives will not find them here. (index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5668-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: QEB Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020



Logically pointing out that the American cowboy archetype didn’t spring up from nowhere, Sandler, author of Cowboys (1994) and other volumes in the superficial, if luxuriously illustrated, “Library of Congress Book” series, looks back over 400 years of cattle tending in North America. His coverage ranges from the livestock carried on Columbus’s second voyage to today’s herding-by-helicopter operations. Here, too, the generous array of dramatic early prints, paintings, and photos are more likely to capture readers’ imaginations than the generality-ridden text. But among his vague comments about the characters, values, and culture passed by Mexican vaqueros to later arrivals from the Eastern US, Sadler intersperses nods to the gauchos, llaneros, and other South American “cowmen,” plus the paniolos of Hawaii, and the renowned African-American cowboys. He also decries the role film and popular literature have played in suppressing the vaqueros’ place in the history of the American West. He tackles an uncommon topic, and will broaden the historical perspective of many young cowboy fans, but his glance at modern vaqueros seems to stop at this country’s borders. Young readers will get a far more detailed, vivid picture of vaquero life and work from the cowboy classics in his annotated bibliography. (Notes, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6019-7

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000




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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