Children's Literature - Carol Raker Collins"In the Footsteps of Explorers" series includes the story of Prince Henry, who sponsored Portuguese exploration of the west coast of Africa during the Middle Ages. As a result, expeditions from 1419 to 1460 took the sailors farther and farther down the western coast of a heretofore unexplored region. Prince Henry was able to have accurate maps made, establish trade routes and trading forts, and settle islands off the coast as Portuguese colonies. He had his men keep logs to help future explorers avoid pitfalls of starvation or death. The Prince, himself a Christian monk, was partly motivated to spread Christianity among the Muslims of Africa. He encouraged his explorers to take Africans as slaves, whom they brought to Portugal or to the colonized islands. By converting them to Christianity, the Prince believed he was saving them from hell. Many people remember the Prince as the leader of Europe's Age of Exploration. Others followed his example as Portugal and Spain explored the Americas after his death. The volatile story is presented in a historical context that explains the beginning of people-and-land acquisitions for Europeans. Ironically, the Prince's actions were in response to the previous conquering of the Iberian Peninsula in the 700s by the Muslims of North Africa. The illustrations, photos, maps, and sidebars make this a visually attractive and factually full read. An updated couscous salad recipe is included, and so are a glossary and an index. The subject matter could prompt important discussion in the classroom or at home. Reviewer: Carol Raker Collins, Ph.D.
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