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Children's LiteratureA series called "Explorers of New Lands" would surely have to include Magellan, first man to circumnavigate the globe—or was he? Readers will be interested to learn that the ambitious Magellan didn't make it—he was killed in the Philippines, a victim of over-confidence and chief Lapu-Lapu of the Mactan tribe (a photo shows the impressive Philippine statue of Lapu-Lapu). The person deserving the honor of being first was probably Enrique, Magellan's Malay slave. The book begins with a rather old-fashioned (or politically incorrect) introduction, but goes on to relate the story of the voyage in a conversational style that often speaks directly to the reader. After a look at Magellan's finding of the legendary strait leading to the Pacific, the author gives background on the rivalry between Spain and Portugal and information about Magellan's early life. Then he describes the perils of the expedition, including hardships, mutinies, and lost ships. Finally, with Magellan dead, two of the five original ships started home laden with precious spices; one got lost and only one arrived in Spain. Crompton adds "A Reflection," revealing the fates of various voyagers and ending with the question, "Was it worth it?" While illustrations are few and far between, sidebars offer additional information on subjects like the Spice Islands, medieval punishments, and the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. Quizzes after each chapter are not very useful; teachers can do better themselves. Included are a timeline, a chronology, bibliographies, and an index. 2006, Chelsea House, Ages 9 to 13.
—Barbara L. Talcroft