Showing posts with label history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history. Show all posts

Early Book Review: When Darwin Sailed the Sea: Uncover how Darwin's Revolutionary Ideas Helped Change the World by David Long, Sam Kalda

When Darwin Sailed the Sea: Uncover how Darwin's Revolutionary Ideas Helped Change the World, written by David Long and illustrated by Sam Kalda, is currently scheduled for release on July 1 2020. At the age of 22 Charles Darwin clambered up the steps of HMS Beagle, armed with enough notepads to last him for several years and set sail on a journey of exploration that would change his life and how we view the entire world forever. This book tells the story of Charles Darwin, and shows how his revolutionary research changed the world forever. From his fascination with the natural world which began at an early age, his love of collecting new specimens and keen eye for observation, to his groundbreaking theory of evolution, uncover the incredible life of Charles Darwin with this illustrated, narrative non-fiction book. 

When Darwin Sailed the Sea is a book that offers readers a look at Darwin as a person and a scientist. The book does a good job of explaining his interests, determination, and how he collaborated with a variety of people. The information was accessible and interesting.I found the accompanying artwork to be lovely to look at while also adding meaning and detail to the text as appropriate. I learned quite a bit about Darwin, and liked the narrative tone that I think works very well in this format. I will admit that I was not expecting it to be as text heavy as it was, but the style and substance balanced that out. I am hoping some young people reading this will see how hard Darwin worked to follow his interests and be inspired. I really liked the timeline, further information on the people Darwin worked with, and additional information included in the endpages. Good use of this section always makes me happy- and this book delivered. 

When Darwin Sailed the Sea would be a great addition to school, classroom, and public libraries. Some readers will want it for their personal collections as well. 

Early Book Review: Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean's Biggest Secret by Jess Keating

Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean's Biggest Secret by Jess Keating is a nonfiction picturebook currently scheduled for release on June 30 2020. From a young age, Marie Tharp loved watching the world. She loved solving problems. And she loved pushing the limits of what girls and women were expected to do and be. In the mid-twentieth century, women were not welcome in the sciences, but Marie was tenacious. She got a job in a laboratory at Cambridge University, New York. But then she faced another obstacle: women were not allowed on the research ships (they were considered bad luck on boats). So instead, Marie stayed back and dove deep into the data her colleagues recorded. She mapped point after point and slowly revealed a deep rift valley in the ocean floor. At first the scientific community refused to believe her, but her evidence was irrefutable. She proved to the world that her research was correct. The mid-ocean ridge that Marie discovered is the single largest geographic feature on the planet, and she mapped it all from her small, cramped office.

Ocean Speaks is a read that just might inspire a new generation of children to follow the interests or fields of study they love even when society might cause stumbling blocks. Marie Tharp loved the ocean, and want to take part in the study of it. Because of restrictions placed on her due to gender she was relegated to the background, and her results and work with the data were often dismissed or claimed by others for the very same reason. It was a little satisfying to see that her conclusions were proven, after being dismissed for so long. However, it is often also infuriating to read about how people's intelligence and hard work are so often dismissed, stolen, or mocked because of gender or other factors.  I liked learning about Tharp and her work, because much of the information was new to. I also liked the deeper look at her work and the science at the end of the book. 

Ocean Speaks is a well written book that can engage a wide range of readers, and I think it would be an especially good addition to school and classroom libraries for the lower grades. 

Early Book Review: The Illustrated Dinosaur Encyclopedia: A Visual Who's Who of Prehistoric Life by Barry Cox; R. J. G. Savage; Brian Gardiner; Colin Harrison

The Illustrated Dinosaur Encyclopedia: A Visual Who's Who of Prehistoric Life by Barry Cox, R. J. G. Savage, Brian Gardiner, and Colin Harrison​ is currently scheduled for release on May 19 2020. There are entries for more than 600 species, arranged in its evolutionary sequence.  From predatory dinosaurs to primitive amphibians, from giant armored fish to woolly mammoths, saber-tooth tigers, and dire wolves. Each entry features a specially commissioned full-color painting prepared according to the best research of today in close collaboration with world renowned paleontologists. The records of rocks—fossil bones, teeth, skin, hair, and even footprints and nests—have been combined with knowledge of the anatomy and behavior of present day descendants to arrive at informed judgments about posture, color, and other aspects of appearance. Lively and informative "biographies" of the creatures accompany these remarkable illustrations: how they moved, what they ate, where they ranged, and the habitats and ecological niches they occupied.

The Illustrated Dinosaur Encyclopedia is a comprehensive guide to over 600 species of dinosaurs. Information about fossils, evolution, and other related subjects. It is well organized and highly detailed, with beautiful artwork and well structured pages the book is easy to browse, read in order, or search up a favorite bit of information.  I really like that an effort was made to compare  the subject to current animals- making the information more understandable and accessible to readers. The artwork and images were wonderful on their own, but in context of the book they were valuable and add a great deal to the overall read. 

This book would be a prized addition to a personal library for those with interest in dinosaurs and prehistoric times. It would also be a great addition to public, school, and classroom libraries. 

Book Review: Beginner's Guide to Whiskey: Traditions, Types, and Tastes of the Ultimate Spirit by Sam Green

Beginner's Guide to Whiskey: Traditions, Types, and Tastes of the Ultimate Spirit is a nonfiction book by Sam Green. It shares whiskey's rich history, the detailed process from grain to glass, the main types of brown liquor, and, of course, the fine art of savoring handcrafted whiskey. 

Beginner's Guide to Whiskey is an accessible guide to the history, varieties, making, drinking, and meal pairing of whiskey. I have been fascinated by whiskey for years, but am not a big drinker and have been intimidated by the varieties with no clear idea of where to start exploring whiskey without wasting time or money. This guide explained the differences between how the difference types are made, and in turn how they vary in taste. I really liked the charts at the end of each chapter giving some suggests as to where to start and what they each taste like. Making cocktails, and pairing drinks with food are covered as well, which I found helpful. I think i specifically liked the accessible narrative tone of the writing, and the reassurance that there is no wrong way to drink whiskey. Drink what you like, responsibly of course, and enjoy it. Neat, on the rocks, with water, or as part of a cocktail- the important part is finding what you enjoy and doing so is what matters.

Beginner's Guide to Whiskey is a well written, researched guide with suggestions that have put a few things on my mental shopping list.

Early Book Review: What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows?: True Stories of Imagination and Courage by Heather Camlot, Serge Bloch

What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows?: True Stories of Imagination and Courage, written by Heather Camlot and illustrated by Serge Bloch, is currently scheduled for release on March 15 2020. What if the impossible were actually possible? What if we turned our dreams into action? What if our imagination could help solve real-world crises, like war, famine, and human rights violations? Through a series of seemingly whimsical questions, this middle-grade nonfiction book introduces readers to people and organizations that are subverting violence, war, and totalitarian power. What if soldiers refused to carry weapons? What if fighter pilots dropped seeds instead of bombs? What if music could be a creative force for democracy? None of these ideas are impossible—in fact, they are all true historical examples of ideas that have been put into action.

What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows? is an accessible look at how people that thought a little differently and asked the hard questions have been able to effect change. I liket hat while the questions are framed with a little humor the book does not ignore the dangers that some of these people faced in their efforts. Many of these stories were new to me, and even those I vaguely remember I was glad to read again or get more information on. I thought the text was well written and engaging. I think the illustrations were cartoony and fun. They did a great job of keeping some humor on each page, and keeping the interest for readers. Imagination, asking questions, and standing strong in your beliefs were key in each of these stories- and are great values to encourage in readers of all ages. It encourages readers to ask questions, especially the hard ones, and to try to find solutions that will help I like that the book also included a glossary and cited its sources in the backmatter. I might have liked a list of websites or reading materials for further reading, but that could very well be in the final version since I had a digital arc. 

What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows? encourages critical thinking and standing up for your beliefs and passions. I love the real stories from world history that are used to encourage readers of all ages to look past the obvious answers to find something more. 

Book Review: Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt: Egyptian Mythology for Kids by Morgan E. Moroney, Meel Tamphanon

Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt: Egyptian Mythology for Kids by Morgan E. Moroney features illustrated myths of incredible Egyptian gods and goddesses, these  twenty stories describe the magic each deity performed along the Nile. From the rising of the morning sun to the summer flooding of the Nile River, the ancient Egyptians believed powerful gods and goddesses ruled over every aspect of their daily lives. This Egyptian mythology guide explores the legends and how Egyptian mythology was a key part of ancient Egyptian culture, like pyramid building, the mummification process, and even the worshiping of cats. 

Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt is a book that helped me fill in some of my mythology knowledge gaps. I have read some Egyptian mythology before, but feel much less versed in it than Greek, Roman, Celtic, or even Norse.  Now I feel like I have a better understanding of the mythology, and I really enjoyed the read in the process. I thought the color choices for heading and text were bold, and as expected, and the illustrations by Meel Tampanon added a great deal to the read. I also liked the inclusion of photographs of artifacts from the culture, and photographs of the land. It really brought home the reality of the lives and beliefs of the people in ancient Egypt. I knew the basics of Egyptian mythology, and as I read I discovered new things and was reminded of details I had forgotten. While I still need to do an in depth look at the mythology to assuage my own curiosity, I think that this is a good introduction for young readers.I really appreciated the family tree, glossary, resources for further reading, and references that were included in the endpages. 

Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt is an accessible and engaging read. 

Early Book Review: Dark Hedges, Wizard Island, and Other Magical Places That Really Exist by L Rader Crandall

Dark Hedges, Wizard Island, and Other Magical Places That Really Exist by L Rader Crandall is currently scheduled for release on March 3 2020. From a lost city in the desert to a cave alight with thousands of glowworms, learn about some of the most unusual places on earth and the myths, legends, and history behind each of them! Looking at places like The Skeleton Coast in Namibia, Wizard Island in the United States, and The Fairy Tale Route in Germany, This book takes young readers on a journey around the world to real places that sound straight out of fantasy. Featuring both natural and man-made wonders, this travel book combines history and storytelling to explore the far reaches of the earth.
Dark Hedges, Wizard Island, and Other Magical Places That Really Exist takes stories from history and legends and connects them to the places they are about. The history of castles, sieges, and wizard origins are shared with the information about the location you can visit that is tied into these stories. Some of these stories I had heard before, but many were new to me. I thought the tone was conversational and matter of fact, making the text accessible and enjoyable to readers. I liked that the locations were from all around the world, and no culture or group of people were set apart as bad or other- which often happens in historic or legend based text. The photography was stunning, and I adored the detailed bibliography- citing sources and encouraging further reading in the process always makes me happy even if I know a good number of readers are likely to ignore this section. 

Book Review: Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford, Eric Velasquez

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library was written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro–Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s life’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. When Schomburg’s collection became so big it began to overflow his house (and his wife threatened to mutiny), he turned to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection that was the cornerstone of a new Negro Division. A century later, his groundbreaking collection, known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has become a beacon to scholars all over the world.

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library is a wonderful look at the work and dreams of Schomburg. He did not want to discover the history and accomplishments that are often whitewashed from history for his own sake. As much as he loved the research, collecting, and learning he also loved teaching and sharing this information with others. I really enjoyed reading about poets, musicians, and activists that I did not know about (or know the whole story of). More importantly it inspired me to do more of my own research, and hopefully arrange a trip to the New York Public library to see this collection in person.  While some might find the book a little text heavy, I cannot imagine what could be cut out of the story without losing interesting and important information. In fact, there is so much more that could have been included that I think there was a good balance. The art did a good job of matching the text and keeping my interest. I think this would be a great addition particularly for school and library collections. It would be a great discussion starter and would also be a fantastic choice for inspiring student to research people that might not have received the recognition they deserve for their accomplishments.

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library  is a wonderful read and I highly recommend it.

Book Review: After the Final Curtain: America’s Abandoned Theaters by Matt Lambros

After the Final Curtain: America’s Abandoned Theaters by Matt Lambros documents the current state of the once opulent movie theaters that were designed to make their patrons feel like royalty.  People would dress up to visit. But as time went on it became harder and harder to fill the 2,000+ seat theaters and many were forced to close. Today, these palaces are illuminated only by the flicker of dying lights. The sound of water dripping from holes in the ceiling echoes through the auditoriums. From the supposedly haunted Pacific Warner Theatre in Los Angeles to the Orpheum Theatre in New Bedford, MA ― which opened the same day the Titanic sank ― Lambros pulls back the curtain to reveal what is left, giving these palaces a chance to shine again.

After the Final Curtain: America’s Abandoned Theaters offers readers a look at the once beautiful movie theaters in their current states, along with information on the location. I found a sad beauty in most of the pictures, a faded grandeur and a look at what was glorious inthe past. I have always loved theaters- the magic and wonder in getting lost in a story and someone's acting or musical talent  isa wonderful thing. The faded glory of these theaters hold on to some of this wonder, as sad as the state of some of these buildings are in. I think that Lambros did a wonderful job of documenting these locations, and the changes in the world that triggered some of this decay. I really enjoyed learning about some of the projects that have happened, and are still happening, to preserve, restore, or repurpose some of these buildings. While we cannot go back, providing space for history and the arts to live on is a wonderful thing. I only wish more of these buildings had futures as bright as their pasts.

Early Book Review: True Grit: American Prints from 1900 to 1950 by Stephanie Schrader, James Glisson, Alexander Nemerov

True Grit: American Prints from 1900 to 1950 by Stephanie Schrader, James Glisson and Alexander Nemerov is being published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center October 15, 2019, to January 19, 2020. It is currently set for release on October 22 2019.
In the first half of the twentieth century, a group of American artists influenced by the painter and teacher Robert Henri aimed to reject the pretenses of academic fine art and polite society. Embracing the democratic inclusiveness of the Progressive movement, these artists turned to making prints, which were relatively inexpensive to produce and easy to distribute. For their subject matter, the artists mined the bustling activity and stark realities of the urban centers in which they lived and worked. Their prints feature sublime towering skyscrapers and stifling city streets, jazzy dance halls and bleak tenement interiors—intimate and anonymous everyday scenes that addressed modern life in America. This exhibition and book examines a rich selection of prints by well-known figures like George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Joseph Pennell, and John Sloan as well as lesser-known artists such as Ida Abelman, Peggy Bacon, Miguel Covarrubias, and Mabel Dwight. It is written by three scholars of printmaking and American art, the essays present nuanced discussions of gender, class, literature, and politics, contextualizing the prints in the rapidly changing milieu of the first decades of twentieth-century America.
True Grit is an interesting read. Art history and interpretation is not my field of study, or even a hobby, but I love exploring new things. This book definitely fits that. I really enjoyed getting to look at works I had never seen before, and learning about the history and ideas involved in the artwork and the times. I will admit that some of the text was about something I have never really studied before, and I found it interesting but not something I will continue to research and explore. The art itself was the star for me, and why I actually requested the book to be honest. I think the essays were well written and researched. I found the information and ideas to be interesting and think that art buffs, artists, and those in the closest related fields will definitely get more out of this than I, but I am still very glad that I took a step out of my comfort zone and had the chance to look at some art I have never seen, and learn something at the same time. 

Early Book Review: The Girl Who Rode a Shark: And Other Stories of Daring Women by Ailsa Ross, Amy Blackwell

The Girl Who Rode a Shark: And Other Stories of Daring Women was written by Ailsa Ross and illustrated by Amy Blackwell. Itis currently scheduled for release on October 25 2019.  This non fiction book is a rousing collection of biographies focused on women and girls who have written, explored, or otherwise plunged headfirst into the pages of history. Undaunted by expectations, they made their mark by persevering in pursuit of their passions. The tales come from a huge variety of times and places, from a Canadian astronaut to an Indian secret agent to a Balkan pirate queen who stood up to Ancient Rome. Author and activist Ailsa Ross gives readers a fun, informative piece of nonfiction that emphasizes the boundless potential of a new generation of women.

The Girl Who Rode a Shark tells the stories of some amazing woman. A good many of them I knew, but some (and their exploits) were new to me. I think it is wonderful that people are taking the time and effort to uncover tales of those so often forgotten in history classes. I thought that the short biographies were well written and accessible, and found the illustrations to be colorful and I think they added a nice touch throughout the book. I liked the varieties of woman included, and how they were organized by kind of adventures they had rather than time they lived or location. I also liked that such a nice variety of cultures and eras are included in the book as well. I really enjoyed the read and got a great deal from it, and I think other readers of all ages will as well. 

The Girl Who Rode a Shark is a great collection of short biographies about amazing woman. I think this is a great choice for classrooms and libraries to encourage readers to follow their dreams, and to show them that they can do anything with enough effort- no matter who they are.

Early Book Review: Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago's South Side by Lee Bey

Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago's South Side by Lee Bey is currently scheduled for release on October 15 2019. Inspired by Bey’s 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial exhibition, Southern Exposure visits sixty sites, including lesser-known but important work by luminaries such as Jeanne Gang, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Eero Saarinen, as well as buildings by pioneering black architects such as Walter T. Bailey, John Moutoussamy, and Roger Margerum. Pushing against the popular narrative that depicts Chicago’s South Side as an architectural wasteland, Bey shows beautiful and intact buildings and neighborhoods that reflect the value—and potential—of the area. Southern Exposure offers much to delight architecture aficionados and writers, native Chicagoans and guests to the city alike.
Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago's South Side is a lovely book of photography with well written and interesting information about the buildings pictured.The tone was very conversational, making it an enjoyable read.  It was very interesting to learn about the history surrounding some of the locations, as well as the current uses, and hope for the future. I have never been to Chicago, and have no current plans, so I was glad to see a piece of the city, particularly since it does not always receive this kind of attention. I think those from the area, and those that are interested in architecture, photography, and Chicago's history will all get a great deal from exploring this book. 

Book Review: Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science behind Your Favorite Monsters by Carlyn Beccia

Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science behind Your Favorite Monsters by Carlyn Beccia is a children's non fiction book. Could Dr. Frankenstein's machine ever animate a body? Why should vampires drink from veins and not arteries? What body parts are best for zombies to eat? (It's not brains.) This fascinating encyclopedia of monsters delves into the history and science behind eight legendary creatures, from Bigfoot and the kraken to zombies and more. Find out each monster's origin story and the real-world history that informed it, and then explore the science of each creature in fun and surprising ways. Tips and infographics—including monster anatomy, how to survive a vampire attack, and real-life giant creatures of the deep sea—make this a highly visual and fun-to-browse book.

Monstrous is well organized and written. The book offers a historic and scientific background to some of the legends of monsters, magic, and more. The text is well written. It is very informative, with bits of humor throughout. Even when the subject gets a little dense or shares what I would consider fairly well known information, the text never feels unaccessible or condescending. I enjoyed that even while I knew a great deal of the information- as I am a fan or folklore and mythology- there were some new things to learn as well as some deep enjoyment in seeing some of my more esoteric knowledge confirmed or expanded on. I also greatly enjoyed the artwork in the illustrations and the the styles for the backgrounds and infographics. It was on point and helped reinforce the information, keep the reader's interest, and entertain. The combination of fact and fun was pretty much perfect. The author even took the time to mention when science has been wrong, I think this is important to remind all readers because it shows that there is always more to learn and more research that can be done. I was very happy to see a bibliography, glossary, and index in the endpages. Too often I see these things neglected or poorly done in children's non fiction- expecting them to ignore it or not notice. In this book the list of sources and citations was very well done and could result in interested readers doing further reading, investigating, and research on their own. This encouragement always makes me happy. 

Monstrous is a well written book that offers the tools of science, history, and a little humor to explain the truth about creatures like vampire, zombie, and more. Good for monster fans, and for giving fact based information that could ease the fears of some that are non so fond of monsters. I just pre ordered this to share with my kids.

Early Book Review: Ice: Chilling Stories from a Disappearing World from DK Publishing

Ice: Chilling Stories from a Disappearing World from DK Publishing was written by Laura Buller, Andrea Mills, and John Woodward. It is currently scheduled for release on September 3 2019. This comprehensive book can teach readers about early humans and how they survived in one of the most hostile environments on Earth, the tragic and treacherous journeys of early polar explorers, how icy landscapes develop and change, and meet the animals who make these frozen lands their home. Detailed annotations explore the place of ice on our planet and how we and other animals survive and interact with it. Using captivating CGIs, illustrations, and photography, this book will take readers on an epic journey from the ice age to modern day, exploring how icy worlds are created, how creatures live in these harsh environments and the impact of climate change. This makes it a the perfect companion for any reader who wants to discover frozen worlds and the creatures that make them their home.

Ice: Chilling Stories from a Disappearing World captured my attention with the image on the front cover and never let go. As someone that thought they had a good grasp on most habitats and some of the science involved in the coldest regions on our planet, I need to say that I learned quite a lot from this book. There is so much more to ice, in all its forms, than most of us could ever know. I found the text to be very well organized and researched with absolutely stunning images through out. There is a great deal of information here, and not all of it very optimistic,  making this a book that I think can be taken in smaller bites and returned too many times to refresh or reread the most relevant bits for current research or interests. I think even the youngest readers can appreciate the images in the book, while older readers (including adults) will be able to learn much from this resource. 

Ice: Chilling Stories from a Disappearing World is exactly what you would expect from the title and publisher. It is a well done non fiction book well suited for all libraries and personal collections, and visually stunning. 

Early Book Review: The Incredible Yet True Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt: The Greatest Inventor-Naturalist-Scientist-Explorer Who Ever Lived by Volker Mehnert, Claudia Lieb

The Incredible yet True Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt: The Greatest Inventor-Naturalist-Scientist-Explorer Who Ever Lived is an biography for children written by Volker Mehnert and illustrated by Claudia Lieb. Explorer. Scientist. Polymath. Hero. In his day, Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) was among the most renowned scholars of the Enlightenment. He led pioneering expeditions in Central and South America (including the Amazon rainforest) as well as in Siberia, and he arguably founded the natural sciences as we know them. Charles Darwin called Humboldt “the greatest scientific traveler who ever lived,” and credited him with inspiring the journey that resulted in On the Origin of Species. And yet, in history books, Humboldt has been eclipsed by his intellectual heirs and admirers—such as Darwin himself, John Muir, and Henry David Thoreau—until now.

The Incredible yet True Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt is a well written and researched book about an explorer and inventor that took part in many amazing expeditions and had a great impact on science. I like that it the story began with Humbolt being intelligent but distract able and frustrating his tutor. I think that could inspire readers with similar challenges academically to find their niche and work hard. Although I did find myself siding with his family a little as he quit his job and started exploring the world. It must be nice to do what ever you want with no obligations or money concerns, but I digress.I was glad to learn about his work, and thought the writing was easy to follow and accessible to middle grade readers. I liked the illustrated pages, and think the artwork added a great deal to the finished product. As a whole,  it was a little dry at times and while I can admire the work he did, and the fact that it was not easy all the time, I cannot help but think about how many others with the same interests and intelligence  could have done alongside, before, or after to further science if they only had the same opportunities.

The Incredible yet True Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt is an interesting and informative look at one inquisitive man's life. I like that it showed some of the challenges that he faced in his efforts to research and explore, but that the privilege of bring a rich man allowed him the opportunities that others with similar interests would not have had. 

Book Review: When We Became Humans: Our Incredible Evolutionary Journey by Michael Bright, Hannah Bailey

When We Became Humans: Our Incredible Evolutionary Journey, written by Michael Bright and illustrated by Hannah Bailey, is a children's nonfiction book. This large-format book guides readers through the key aspects of the human story, from the anatomical changes that allowed us to walk upright and increased brain size in our ancestors, to the social, cultural, and economic developments of our more recent cousins and our own species. Along the way, focus spreads take a closer look at some of the key species in our history, from the ancient Australopithecus Afarensis, 'Lucy', to our recent cousins the Neanderthals and ourselves, Homo sapiens.Looking beyond the anatomical evolution of humans, this book explores how our culture and way of living has evolved, from how trails of cowry shells reveal early trade between tribes, to how and why humans first domesticated dogs, horses, and farm animals, and began settling in permanent villages and cities. Through digestible information and absorbing illustration, young readers will be given an insight into their own origins, and what it really means to be a human.

When We Became Humans does a wonderful job of explaining and illustrating important anthropological and archaeological terms to readers. The information about the evolution of man is well chronicled here- with just about every aspect of out past and present understanding of it well covered. I found the text to be clear and well written, and the illustrations do a good job of adding detail and capturing the interest and imagination of readers. I thought I had a good understanding of the topic, but found this book to be extremely informative and accessible. I think that this is a book that readers will enjoy looking at on their own, and in an educational context. I really liked the included charts and text about science fiction or fact, and the thoughts about the future. It was well done all around. 

When We Became Humans is a well organized and researched book that will appeal to interested readers and those reading for projects and classroom enrichment alike. 

Book Review: When We Walked on the Moon: Discover the Dangers, Disasters, and Triumphs of Every Moon Mission by David Long, Sam Kalda

When We Walked on the Moon: Discover the Dangers, Disasters, and Triumphs of Every Moon Mission was written by David Long and illustrated by Sam Kalda. The book tells the story of the Apollo Missions, when incredible intelligence, engineering and bravery allowed humans to stand on the surface of something other than Earth for the very first time. From the 1969 first moon landing to the amazing rescue of Apollo 13, each chapter tells the story of a different mission. Humorous details bring the astronauts to life: discover how the astronauts of Apollo 12 were so over-excited when they stepped onto the Moon that Mission Control had to tell them to quieten down, and Shepard (Apollo 14) somehow managed to smuggle a golf club onto his spacecraft! 

When We Walked on the Moon is a very informative and well balanced read. I like that the facts are straight forward but given with small humorous and lesser known details that will make every reader smile. The combination of well written and accessible text with illustrations that offer up additional details and make some of the fact more clear is nearly perfect. I found the art style to be very nice, and think that they will help keep the interest of readers that need to break up the text a little. I really enjoyed having all of the missions described in one book, giving a clearer view of the progression of the missions and the unusual moments from each. I learned many things that I did not know, and I think many other readers (of all ages) will find that they learn a great deal from this book as well.
I also appreciated the glossary, which might make reading the text even more accessible to some readers.

When We Walked on the Moon is a great book for every readers that has ever dreamt of becoming an astronaut, or that has simply looked at the sky and wanted to know more about what goes into getting there. 

Book Review: In Search Of Dinosaurs: Find the Fossils: Identify the Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon

In Search Of Dinosaurs: Find the Fossils: Identify the Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon encourages readers to look out for dinosaur bones, footprints, and fossil feathers in this dinosaur dig site. Defore opening the gatefolds and uncovering the creatures to whom they once belonged, in 3 incredible, expansive panoramic scenes. Travel through Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous eras, hunting for fossils and then learning about each amazing prehistoric creature, before testing your knowledge with a fun dinosaur quiz. Grab your paleontologist’s tool kit and get stuck in with facts, stats, and colorful illustrations to amaze any young dinosaur enthusiast.

In Search Of Dinosaurs is a good non fiction introduction to fossil huntings and the eras when dinosaurs lived. I thought the break downs and information were very well done. The information was all valuable, but I think many dino obsessed young readers will already have some of this information down, but this is a good starting point for readers that are just discovering paleontology and dinosaurs. The illustrations were well done, giving the needed detail, but did not wow or amaze me with detail of vividness. I did like the short quiz at the end.

In Search Of Dinosaurs is basic non fiction resource for those looking to learn about dinosaurs and paleontology. It offers exactly what is expected by the title and description, but did not amaze me. 

Book Review: The Spiritual Meaning of the Sixties: The Magic, Myth, and Music of the Decade That Changed the World by Tobias Churton

The Spiritual Meaning of the Sixties: The Magic, Myth, and Music of the Decade That Changed the World by Tobias Churton takes the reader on a long strange trip from crew-cuts and Bermuda shorts to Hair and Woodstock, from liquor to psychedelics, from uncool to cool, and from matter to Soul, Churton shows how the spiritual values of the Sixties are now reemerging.

No decade in modern history has generated more controversy and divisiveness than the tumultuous 1960s. For some, the ‘60s were an era of free love, drugs, and social revolution. For others, the Sixties were an ungodly rejection of all that was good and holy. Embarking on a profound search for the spiritual meaning behind the massive social upheavals of the 1960s, Tobias Churton turns a kaleidoscopic lens on religious and esoteric history, industry, science, philosophy, art, and social revolution to identify the meaning behind all these diverse movements. Engaging with views of mainstream historians, some of whom write off this pivotal decade as heralding an overall decline in moral values and respect for tradition, Churton examines the intricate network of spiritual forces at play in the era. He reveals spiritual principles that united the free love movement, the civil rights and anti-war movements, the hippies’ rejection of materialist culture, and the eventual rise of feminism, gay rights, and environmentalism. He traces influences from medieval troubadours, Gnosticism, Hindu philosophy, Renaissance hermetic magic, and the occult doctrines of Aleister Crowley. He also examines the psychedelic revolution, the genesis of popular interest in UFOs, and the psychological consequences of the Bomb and the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King. In addition, Churton investigates the huge shifts in consciousness reflected in the movies, music, art, and literature of the era--from Frank Sinatra to the Beatles, from I Love Lucy to Star Trek, from John Wayne to Midnight Cowboy--much of which still resonates with the youth of today. 

The Spiritual Meaning of the Sixties is a well organized and well researched look at a decade that means different things to different people. This was an engaging read about the conflicts and influences of the decade, and how little some of us really understand about what was happening at the time. I liked the personal narratives and framing that are included in the book, and found the images to be interesting and that they helped me connect more with the text. I do admit that I found some of the writing a little dry (not unusual for nonfiction) and I was not interested in everything that I read. However, I think the book offers a good exploration and thoughtful look at exactly what the title suggests.  

The Spiritual Meaning of the Sixties is exactly what the title suggests. If the title catches your attention and you are interested in the spiritual aspects of the past than you might want to give this book a read.

Book Review: The Man Who Knew Everything: The Strange Life of Athanasius Kircher by Marilee Peters, Roxanna Bikadoroff

The Man Who Knew Everything: The Strange Life of Athanasius Kircher is a biography written by Marilee Peters and features illustrations by Roxanna Bikadoroff. Athanasius Kircher was a 17th-century German Jesuit and scientist. He was one of the modern world’s first scientific celebrities—the Einstein or Stephen Hawking of his time. In 1638, Kircher was lowered into the smoking crater of Mt. Vesuvius to observe how volcanoes work. After thirty years, he published an 800-page volume of his findings—along with theories about fossils, geography, the Earth’s core, dragons, the location of the lost city of Atlantis, and more. Kircher has been described as the last Renaissance man, the first postmodernist, and “the man who knew everything.” This book celebrates Kircher’s insatiable curiosity, his willingness to ask questions and to suggest answers, even when he sometimes got it wrong. 
The Man Who Knew Everything is well written and researched. I liked the straight forward but somehow playful tone of the book, and found that the illustrations added interest and humor. I loved how Athanasius's curiosity is framed in a way that show both how valuable it is, and the way others sometimes reacted to it. This could help young information seekers understand that while their questioning and answer seeking might not always be well received- it is important and could lead to interesting discoveries and adventures. I also like that the dangers, and mistakes that he made were touched upon as well.  This could help adventurous young readers think through some of their explorations a bit more, and to show them that everyone makes mistakes and that is part of learning. I thought the text was accessible and would be interesting to readers from middle grade on up through adults. 

The Man Who Knew Everything is a dramatic retelling of one man's fascinating life.