Pompeii: Lost and Found

Pompeii: Lost and Found

by Mary Pope Osborne, Bonnie Christensen
     
 

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The famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius that snuffed out life in Pompeii and buried the town has long been a fascinating moment in history for children. This book presents that dramatic story with Mary Pope Osborne’s brief text and with stunning frescoes created by Bonnie Christensen, using the same colors, style, and technique as the ancient frescoes unearthed

Overview

The famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius that snuffed out life in Pompeii and buried the town has long been a fascinating moment in history for children. This book presents that dramatic story with Mary Pope Osborne’s brief text and with stunning frescoes created by Bonnie Christensen, using the same colors, style, and technique as the ancient frescoes unearthed at Pompeii. In addition to the destruction of Pompeii and the rediscovery of the ruins nearly 1,700 years later, the book shows what daily life was like in this prosperous Roman town in the year 79 A.D.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The author who has inspired many young history buffs with her Magic Tree House series again takes readers back in time in this handsomely illustrated nonfiction picture book about Pompeii. After a brief introduction to the bustling town and the Mt. Vesuvius eruption that buried it in AD 79, the narrative fast forwards about 1,500 years to when the first ruins were unearthed. Osborne's thorough text and Christensen's (The Daring Nellie Bly) original frescoes vividly depict what archeology revealed about life in the Roman town. The discoveries span a range of subjects, from food ("Archaeologists have uncovered many bakeries... with petrified loaves of bread still in their ovens!") to gladiator helmets ("A wounded fighter lived or died according to the will of the crowd"). A pleasing design presents spreads organized into three sections: a large two-thirds panel offers a typical everyday scene (e.g., one shows the busy forum where townspeople shopped) and the last third, broken into two inset images, houses the text plus a related archeological find (e.g., coins and scales in the marketplace illustration). Christensen traveled to Italy to learn how to make her richly hued frescoes (an end note explains the process), and their aged, faded quality adds an authentic feel. A few frescoes and facts are somewhat graphic (e.g., "The plaster shapes reveal family members huddled together, their faces twisted with pain and fear"). Because of its stark revelations, the volume is aimed at older readers, but adults will find also this a book worth uncovering. Ages 6-10. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In both text and illustration, this title takes us back to the city that was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Osborne describes what archeologists have discovered in the many years of excavation after the discovery of the buried town and its identification in 1763. From their work we can reconstruct the lives of the people of Pompeii, from the wealthy to the slaves. We can see the kinds of concerts and plays they attended, the public baths and toilets they used, the shopping available, the religious rites, the lives of children, all brought to an end with the terrible explosion. Christensen creates fresco-like illustrations of the ancient town and its inhabitants in a style which is based on the pictures found by the archeologists. She uses muted earth tones probably to suggest the effects of the years of burial in volcanic ash. But there is also a quality of a living community clearly in the double-page scenes and vignettes. To add interest, she pictures six objects found in the ruins early in the book and asks readers to guess how they were used. Answers are at the end, along with notes on making frescoes. 2006, Alfred A. Knopf/ Random House Children's Books, Ages 6 to 10.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-After brief accounts of the events of 79 A.D. and the first archaeological investigations of the city that lay beneath the fields surrounding Mt. Vesuvius, Osborne's straightforward text focuses on the life at Pompeii at the time of the volcano's eruption. Discussions of daily activities include mention of the many types of buildings unearthed, such as private homes, bakeries, baths, and markets, as well as the activities enjoyed by the free citizens of Pompeii-concerts, plays, and gladiator fights. A large illustration, flanked on the right by two boxes containing text and a smaller picture, occupies most of each spread. Christensen's distinctive, haunting frescoes are reminiscent of the art found throughout the site. Some illustrations are copies of original artwork, while others offer glimpses into what the city may have looked like prior to the volcano's eruption, detail objects found on location, and offer readers information on dress, decoration, and architecture. The illustrations are framed with decorative patterns typical of the period and the colors used reflect those found at Pompeii, including the distinctive, earthen red of some of its most familiar frescoes. While Osborne's text does not go into great detail, it will serve as an enticing introduction to this legendary city "frozen in time." Students ready for more information will be fascinated by James M. Deem's Bodies from the Ash (Houghton, 2005), illustrated with outstanding color photos.-Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Frescoes illustrate this lovely reconstruction of life-and death-in the ancient city of Pompeii. The straightforward narrative opens with the city's destruction by the eruption of Vesuvius and then fast forwards to its discovery by archaeologists and the painstaking reconstruction they have made of the lives of its inhabitants. Osborne takes care to ground surmise in the physical evidence, adducing such kid-pleasing detail as graffiti honoring gladiators and the discovery of petrified loaves of bread in bakers' ovens. Christensen's frescoes-what better medium could she have chosen?-depict Pompeii in both life and death, her design allowing most spreads to juxtapose recreations of Pompeian activities against a picture of a piece of substantiating evidence-a Roman lady in her garden appears with representations of ancient tools, and so on. Captions engage readers in a game to identify the purposes behind such objects, with the answers found at the back. It is of necessity an introductory treatment, but what a lovely introduction it is, and it will whet readers' appetites for more in-depth examinations such as James Deem's Bodies from the Ash (October 2005). (note on frescoes) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375828898
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
01/28/2006
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
611,061
Product dimensions:
9.53(w) x 12.30(h) x 0.38(d)
Lexile:
980L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

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