THE TOMB OF THE BOY KING

The exciting tale of the archaeological dig that resulted in the discovery of the incredible treasures of King Tut’s tomb. All the details are included: the difficulty in obtaining and maintaining financing, the daily tedium and labor, the superstitious belief that there was a curse on the site and, of course, the amazing riches they found. Frank (Erin’s Voyage, 1994, etc.) brings the characters of Carter, Carnarvon, Lady Evelyn, and Abdul Ali to life and manages to convey the mystery and wonder surrounding the venture in a fast-paced, almost breathless account—told entirely in verse. Frank has chosen to use a somewhat awkward ABCB rhyme scheme. But the main problem lies in the lack of consistency. Only a few of the stanzas are self-contained thoughts. Most are incomplete and continue, not always smoothly, onto the next stanza. Some of the poetry sings, but sometimes the reader is stopped cold. Therefore it takes some effort, and several readings, to find just the right flow in Frank’s verses; they need to be read as a kind of rhythmic prose. Younger readers may find the style too difficult and would probably benefit from an initial read-aloud by an adult. But it is definitely worth the effort. An epilogue presents a great deal of additional information, and leaves some questions, especially that of the supposed curse, intriguingly unanswered. The lovely, softly colored illustrations are a charming mixture of Egyptian motifs and detailed paintings depicting well-chosen vignettes from the story. A great way to pique interest in a discovery that’s still fascinating after so many years. (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 9, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-37674-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people.

GROUND ZERO

Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019.

In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz’s deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn’t extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban’s Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author’s note and in characters’ conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence.

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-24575-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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This unusual book offers a surprising amount of information, organized and presented in an appealing way for...

WHY WE LIVE WHERE WE LIVE

Why do people choose to live where they do in our world?

Vermond’s introduction to that big question points out that humans adapt: They use their big brains and work together to make places livable. A comfortable climate, readily available food and water, power for heat, light, transportation and communication, people who speak the same language, nearby families and plentiful jobs are just some of the things people are looking for. From the “Planet Perfect” to making your hometown one of “The Happiest Places on Earth,” the author considers human needs, briefly surveys the development of cities, explains what urban planners do, considers the reasons for living in a dangerous place as well as the reasons for moving, and touches on the effects of climate change and the possibility of living elsewhere in the universe. Each spread covers a separate topic. The extensive, conversational text is often set in columns and broken down into short segments, each with a heading, moving along quickly. A lively design and humorous illustrations add appeal. Unfortunately, there are no sources or suggestions for further reading.

This unusual book offers a surprising amount of information, organized and presented in an appealing way for upper-elementary students. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-77147-011-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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