TALES OF THE DEAD

ANCIENT ROME

This fiction/nonfiction hybrid features topical spreads on life in the early Roman Empire, loosely connected by a story, told in graphic novel–style panels running along the margins, of two young North African captives sold into slavery. The made-up part is too trite and sketchy to be more than a temporary distraction. Likewise the text, printed in several sizes and faces, shoehorned into every nook and cranny, occasionally marred by factual errors (no, Roman roads weren’t built on wooden foundations) and written in a modern idiom throughout—“OK, so maybe I don’t get along with Sabina that well.” It’s the finely detailed (if blood and dirt free) history paintings, adorned with frequent cutaways and abuzz with small, busy figures, that will provide the real draw. Still, there’s more flash here than substance; steer learners, visual or otherwise, to the plethora of more systematic surveys already out there. (index, no resource lists) (Fiction/nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7566-1147-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Chatty, formulaic, superficial—and dispensable, as the content is neither reliable nor systematic. .

STATES AND CAPITALS

UNITED WE STAND!

From the Basher History series

Sprouting bodies and grins, the states introduce themselves alphabetically in this Basher History gallery.

Following the series’ cast-in-stone design, each entry poses in a cartoon portrait with small emblems representing prominent physical features, industry, number of native U.S. presidents and other select distinctions. On opposite pages, a hearty self-description dominates: “Aloha! Come and hang ten with me, dude. I’m a bunch of chilled-out islands in the Pacific, but I have a fiery heart.” This is sandwiched between bulleted lists of superficial facts, from state bird, flower and nickname to (for Arkansas) “Known for diverse landscape, extreme weather, and Walmart.” U.S. territories bring up the rear, followed by a table of official state mottos and, glued to the rear cover, a foldout map. Along with out-and-out errors (a mistranslation of “e pluribus unum”) and unqualified claims (Boston built the first subway), Green offers confusing or opaque views on the origins of “Hawkeye,” “Sooners,” some state names and which of two “Mississippi Deltas” was the birthplace of the blues. Furthermore, a reference to “sacred hunting grounds” in West Virginia and Kentucky’s claim that “It wasn’t until pioneer Daniel Boone breached the Cumberland Gap…that my verdant pastures were colonized” are, at best, ingenuous.

Chatty, formulaic, superficial—and dispensable, as the content is neither reliable nor systematic. . (index, glossary) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7534-7138-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

LONEK’S JOURNEY

THE TRUE STORY OF A BOY’S ESCAPE TO FREEDOM

Eleven-year-old Lonek’s experiences as a Jewish child in the early years of WWII are almost unbelievably horrible: Forced to flee Poland in 1939 after the German invasion, he and his family are transported to a Siberian gulag, where they remain for a year, barely surviving unspeakable conditions. Upon their release, Lonek’s anguished mother brings him to an orphanage because that seems his only chance to live. What follows is the boy’s harrowing, solo two-year journey that takes him to other parts of the Soviet Union, then to Iran, India, around the Middle East and, finally, to safety in Palestine in 1942. Readers will marvel at how anyone, let alone a child, could endure all this and will cheer as Lonek reaches freedom at last. However, the recounting of his tribulations and ultimate triumph deserves a much better treatment than is given here. Lonek’s story should be more involving and engrossing, but Whiteman’s writing is pedestrian and repetitive, especially given that she has already written this story for adults. Photos and follow-up postwar data on Lonek and his family are included. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-59572-021-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Star Bright

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more