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Children's LiteratureThis large-format, colorful volume of the "In the Footsteps of the Explorers" series has the look of a Dorling Kindersley informational book, but with more text. Prints and color photographs on a white background bring middle readers an overview of Magellan's voyage, cut short for him when he over-confidently took on a tribal chief in the Philippines and met his death on a beach. Of the five ships that set out under his command, only one returned, with just eighteen men. Young historians can learn about ships and navigation of the time, the several mutinies Magellan survived (and punished severely), as well as the cargo his ships carried on their search for the Spice Islands. Modern photographs help readers visualize clove trees on the Moluccas, native peoples of the islands, animals seen on the icy tip of South America, and a rusting cannon on the island of Ternate. In clear, readable prose the author traces the main events of the historic voyage and gives some idea of the explorer's character. He ends with a summary of Magellan's legacy—both pros (new knowledge of the Earth, oceans, and other peoples) and cons (slavery, colonialism, disease)—possibly sparking discussion of these and other issues. This volume will work well as a supplement to more conventional biographies of Magellan with fewer illustrations and less visual appeal, or it may provide just the right amount of information to hold the interest of younger readers. A glossary and a short index are included. 2006, Crabtree, Ages 10 up.
—Barbara L. Talcroft