THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

In a large, handsome format, Tarnowska offers six tales plus an abbreviated version of the frame story, retold in formal but contemporary language and sandwiched between a note on the Nights’ place in her childhood in Lebanon and a page of glossary and source notes. Rather than preserve the traditional embedded structure and cliffhanger cutoffs, she keeps each story discrete and tones down the sex and violence. This structure begs the question of why Shahriyar lets Shahrazade [sic] live if she tells each evening’s tale complete, but it serves to simplify the reading for those who want just one tale at a time. Only the opener, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” is likely to be familiar to young readers; in others a prince learns to control a flying “Ebony Horse” by “twiddling” its ears, contending djinn argue whether “Prince Kamar el Zaman [or] Princess Boudour” is the more beautiful (the prince wins) and in a Cinderella tale a “Diamond Anklet” subs for the glass slipper. Hénaff’s stylized scenes of domed cityscapes and turbaned figures add properly whimsical visual notes to this short but animated gathering. (Folktales. 10-12)

 

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-122-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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WHAT IT'S LIKE TO CLIMB MOUNT EVEREST, BLAST OFF INTO SPACE, SURVIVE A TORNADO, AND OTHER EXTRAORDINARY STORIES

A prolific reporter of paranormal phenomena strains to bring that same sense of wonder to 12 “transposed”—that is, paraphrased from interviews but related in first person—accounts of extraordinary experiences. Some feats are more memorable than others; compared to Bethany Hamilton’s return to competitive surfing after having her arm bitten off by a shark and Mark Inglis’ climb to the top of Mount Everest on two prosthetic legs, Joe Hurley’s nine-month walk from Cape Cod to Long Beach, Calif., is anticlimactic. Dean Karnazes hardly seems to be exerting himself as he runs 50 marathons on 50 consecutive days, and the comments of an Air Force Thunderbirds pilot and a military Surgeon’s Assistant in Iraq come off as carefully bland. The survivors of a hurricane at sea, a lightning strike and a tornado, on the other hand, tell more compelling stories. Most of the color photos are at least marginally relevant, and each entry closes with a short note on its subject’s subsequent activities. Casual browsers will be drawn to at least some of the reconstructed narratives in this uneven collection. A reading list would have been more useful than the superfluous index, though. Fun, in a scattershot sort of way. (Nonfiction browsing item. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4027-6711-1

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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The level of violence is unrealistically low, but these purposeful vignettes add a gauzy back story to what today’s children...

CHILDREN OF TIME

EVOLUTION AND THE HUMAN STORY

In six fictional episodes directly linked to paleontological artifacts, Weaver retraces the past 2.5 million years of “hominin” (pre)history.

Framed as a modern lad’s daydreams, her reconstructions open with the short life of the Australopithecine “Taung child” and end with a supposed seasonal ritual by a group of early modern Homo sapiens in what would become Europe some 26,000 years ago. In between they offer scenes in the daily lives (and deaths) of Homo habilis, Homo erectus and Neanderthal in future Africa and the Mideast. With paintings that resemble museum-diorama backgrounds—loose, but careful with natural detail—Celeskey tracks evolutionary changes in facial features, body types and clothing (or lack thereof). As the narrative progresses, the author inserts speculative but informed touchpoints in the development of names (“Roaank Awaagh” to “Moluk of the Wolf Clan”) and language, tools and culture. Explanatory afterwords elaborate on the evidence incorporated into each chapter.

The level of violence is unrealistically low, but these purposeful vignettes add a gauzy back story to what today’s children may have only seen as a few old chipped stones and fossil bones. (resource lists) (Creative nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8263-4442-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Univ. of New Mexico

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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