A solid retread of familiar ground marred by the frequent evocation of a tired trope.



The oft-told story of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb is framed around the purported curse of the pharaohs.

In 1906, in British-occupied Egypt, the wealthy, occult-loving Earl of Carnarvon hunted treasure in the Valley of the Kings. He met Howard Carter, a mildly disgraced archaeologist, and the two began a long partnership that started with the meager excavation of picked-over sites and culminated with the most glamorous discovery in all of Egyptology. The two Englishmen who dug up the people of ancient Egypt were professionals and aristocrats who dined in luxury on crystal and china while their Egyptian workers remained unnamed, their opinions unheard. But the 1922 discovery of the lush treasures of King Tut’s tomb, described in loving, fascinating particulars and illustrated in well-chosen photographs, is situated here amid something Carter and Carnarvon barely noticed: the nationalism of interwar Egypt and rising anger toward the colonial British occupiers who allowed them access to the tomb. Unfortunately, each chapter concludes with a section that opens with “it was said” and proceeds to detail bad omens and terrible events that befell people who had even tangential connections to the tomb or its treasures. A final chapter states that the mummy’s curse doesn’t exist, but the earlier maunderings feed into Orientalist tropes and don’t fit with the overall historical narrative—a straightforward telling of Carter’s excavations.

A solid retread of familiar ground marred by the frequent evocation of a tired trope. (author’s note, map, timeline, bibliography, source notes, photo and illustration credits, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-59661-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic Focus

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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A measured corrective to pervasive myths about what is often referred to as the “first Thanksgiving.”

Contextualizing them within a Native perspective, Newell (Passamaquoddy) touches on the all-too-familiar elements of the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving and its origins and the history of English colonization in the territory now known as New England. In addition to the voyage and landfall of the Mayflower, readers learn about the Doctrine of Discovery that arrogated the lands of non-Christian peoples to European settlers; earlier encounters between the Indigenous peoples of the region and Europeans; and the Great Dying of 1616-1619, which emptied the village of Patuxet by 1620. Short, two- to six-page chapters alternate between the story of the English settlers and exploring the complex political makeup of the region and the culture, agriculture, and technology of the Wampanoag—all before covering the evolution of the holiday. Refreshingly, the lens Newell offers is a Native one, describing how the Wampanoag and other Native peoples received the English rather than the other way around. Key words ranging from estuary to discover are printed in boldface in the narrative and defined in a closing glossary. Nelson (a member of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Chippewa) contributes soft line-and-color illustrations of the proceedings. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Essential. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-72637-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A good if limited starting guide.


Author Leavitt presents all the components of doing research into family history with easy-to-follow directions for a successful project.

The volume begins with clear definitions about genealogy and why it is important to study. It moves on to give practical tips on getting started and how to map a family tree. It introduces young readers to the important documents that can assist in gathering family facts and describes the information they provide. It gives solid directions for setting up interviews with family members and how to reach out to those who are far away. This is followed up with strategies for using online resources, including warnings on how to stay safe on social media. The work of tracing ancestors from their countries of origin can be daunting, but Leavitt gives some help in this area as well and explores the role geography can play in family stories. There is good advice for collecting oral histories, and the chapter on exploring “The Way They Were” will appeal to many, as will the concluding chapters on family reunions and keeping in touch. All of this is presented in an encouraging, upbeat tone. Sidebars, charts, illustrations, and photographs add to the accessibility. The major drawback is that it assumes a known biological lineage with heterosexual parentage; there is no mention of the unique issues adopted children and nontraditional families might have in trying to put some of the instructions into practice. A short section addresses the challenges that face African-American descendants of enslaved people.

A good if limited starting guide. (resources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2320-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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