BATTLE STATIONS

FORTIFICATIONS THROUGH THE AGES

A superficial sweep past changing fashions in defensive walls, from Ancient Egypt to the Strategic Defense Initiative, filled out with glances at siege engines, body armor and tanks. Except for the 19th-century Martello Towers, which were built throughout the British Empire as coastal defenses, the examples are covered in more accurate (no, the Great Wall of China is not the only human artifact visible from space, nor is SDI a dead concept) detail elsewhere. Moreover, the generic painted illustrations aren’t going to draw or keep readers familiar with the likes of Stephen Biesty’s Castles (2004) for long. Dispensable. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-55037-888-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

Categories:

CIVIL WAR ARTIST

It took four weeks for illustrations of scenes from the US’s Civil War battles to make it from the front lines to readers’ hands; Morrison (Cheetah, 1998, etc.) explains that process in his uniquely handsome book. Morrison introduces the fictional artist, William Forbes, commissioned by the fictional Burton’s Illustrated News to follow the Union Army into battle at Bull Run. Throughout the day’s fighting Forbes makes quick sketches; it is risky business, and he is often in mortal peril. That night he makes a more complete drawing, which is handed to a courier and taken back to the Burton offices. There, engravers set to work translating Forbes’s drawing to a grid of wood blocks (Morrison includes interesting incidentals along the way, giving the process its due). The images are converted to electrotype, whereafter it is finally ready for the operators and pressman. Shortly after that, the newsboys are seen hawking the illustrated weekly, containing Forbes’s image a mere month after the actual event. Morrison successfully renders the complexities of illustrating newspapers 150 years ago, and just as successfully conveys that in abandoning the wood block for the photograph, some of the art was sacrificed for speed. (glossary) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-91426-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

Categories:

QUENNU AND THE CAVE BEAR

paper 1-895688-87-6 Day uses the prehistoric tale of a young girl coming to terms with her fear of bears to explore the world of cave art. Quennu might be able to handle woolly mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers, but cave bears give her the willies. Her clan’s shaman gives her a bear tooth as a talisman to conquer her fear. On the day when the shaman summons all the people to the cave for an ecstatic painting ceremony, Quennu enters the cave after the others have gone on ahead. At one point she is sure she sees the fiery eyes of an enormous cave bear, yet she carries on, the tooth giving her strength. When she finds her clan in the shadowscape of a great chamber, they are singing and dancing and chanting and applying brushes to the cave walls. Quennu joins in, painting the bear, and putting to rest her fears of the creature, but not her respect for it. Day delivers charged, swirling color and smoky imagery in her illustrations, plus the frisson of transportive mystery that may turn children into future history majors. An explanatory page at the end puts the action into context. (Picture book. 7-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-895688-86-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

Categories:
Close Quickview