Similar in format and style to King George: What Was His Problem? and Two Miserable Presidents (both 2008), Sheinkin offers another fast-paced, irreverent look at American history. The author, a self-described reformed textbook writer, chronicles America’s westward expansion, beginning with the Louisiana Purchase and ending with the Wounded Knee Massacre, which he refers to as the “last major fight between American soldiers and Native Americans,” a troubling mischaracterization in an otherwise well-written historical overview (the consensus among historians is that the action at Wounded Knee was a massacre, not a battle as it has often been mislabeled in the past). An engaging storyteller, the author uses humor and little-known anecdotes to make such subjects as Manifest Destiny, the Mexican-American War, the Gold Rush and Custer’s Last Stand entertaining for readers. His chatty, informal style can wear at times, but it will appeal to young readers turned off to history by stale textbooks. Robinson’s cartoons complement the text. Appendices include extensive source and quotation notes. Inevitably superficial due to its scope, this is nonetheless an accessible and engaging historical overview. (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59643-321-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Flash Point/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009


Can too much information give readers intellectual indigestion? When is it better to graze through a book rather than consuming it in one sitting? Is it possible to make good-for-you information as delicious as (guilty) pleasure reading? The adapted version of Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (2005) raises all of these questions. Intended to inform middle-schoolers of the wide variety of food traditions as well as discrepancies in access to adequate nutrition, this collection of photos, essays and statistics will require thoughtful concentration. Adapted and abridged text, a larger font size, the addition of small maps and basic facts about each country and the deletion of some photos that might have been judged inappropriate or disturbing help to make the wealth of information accessible to this audience. The plentiful photos are fascinating, offering both intimate glimpses of family life and panoramic views of other lands. Whether used for research or received as a gift from socially conscious adults, this version offers children plenty to chew over—but it’ll take them some time to truly digest. (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-58246-246-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2008



Dyer believes that kids have an important stake in how public space is used because they do not have their own truly private spaces. She tackles her broad subject by examining various subtopics in a column, page or double-page spread. This allows her to cover a variety of issues including age discrimination, bicycle commuting, sexual harassment and urban design. Examples from different nations are a welcome reminder of the diversity of possible approaches to common human concerns. Some may feel that the author’s efforts to be inclusive combined with the book’s design is a bit scattershot; others will enjoy the magazine-style snippets of information and opinion. The text is direct, conversational and colloquial. Ngui’s illustrations both extend and punctuate the text and range from stylized black-and-white spot art to full-color depictions of specific places and times. While this topic may not be on most tweens’ radar, the kinds of problems addressed, from unfair curfews to unsafe streets, are surely familiar to many, and the book’s straightforward examination may empower them to take positive action. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55453-293-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2010

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