Children's Literature - Lynn O'ConnellMigrations to the Americas and the Pacific occurred over more than 35,000 years by diverse peoples. Southeast Asians migrated to Australia and the western islands of the Pacific about 4,000 years ago. Later, the first people reached North America, crossing the Bering land bridge, about 18,000 years ago. In addition, the Maori settled in New Zealand about 120 AD. All are explored and explained in this book, an entry in the "History of the World" series, through maps, brilliant illustrations, and succinct text. Twenty sections are basically segmented by geographic region with special focus on the Mayan, Aztec, and Incan societies. Mayan achievements are featured, including the alphabet, written recordkeeping, counting, astronomy, and the calendar. Although the first American peoples discussed are the Maya, Aztec, Inca, and Native American societies, the aborigines of Australia and the Maori of New Zealand are also described in detail. In-depth information is provided about the Pacific Islands including the geographic areas of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, overall providing a great initial overview to this historical period. Reviewer: Lynn O'Connell
VOYA - Ed GoldbergPart of a twelve volume series, The Americas and the Pacific volume covers the Native Americans of the North, civilizations of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Aborigines of Australia and People of the Pacific from 60,000 years ago through 1200 CE, with an emphasis on the Mayans and Aztecs. The first two pages of each volume contain a short introduction and a time line of significant events for each civilization. Individual subjects include descriptions of rulers, society, religion, daily life, and economy. Each topic has a two-page spread, including a one-paragraph narrative, many drawings, and excellent photographs of actual artifacts with explanatory captions. The maps and time lines are informative. Smaller civilizations are discussed in only two pages. The series has positives and negatives. The short introduction summarizes each book, and the intermingling of narrative, charts, and photos is eye-catching and makes for more interesting reading. The maps enable readers to understand the breadth of each civilization's influence. This reviewer is concerned that although several expert consultants are listed, actual author credentials do not appear. The publisher describes the books as presenting in-depth historical knowledge and targets grades seven and up; however, the books merely present overviews. The language and design of the series suggests that it is appropriate for a much younger audience. The books contain a glossary and index, but no further reading, source notes, or bibliography. Readers will not obtain an understanding of the civilization in relation to the surrounding world and will get a disjointed understanding of the civilization discussed. Reviewer: Ed Goldberg
School Library JournalGr 7-10–Similar in style to DK’s “Eyewitness Books,” this appealing series moves from prehistory through medieval Europe and onward to the global issues of today. Along the way, readers are introduced to many prevalent themes in the areas of religion, government, and economics, for example. Spreads discuss a subtopic each, such as the literature and arts of ancient Rome or Inca society and religion. Their effectiveness lies in the combination of lush illustrations, well-chosen, captioned photographs of contemporary artifacts, and reasoned, concise narratives. Succinct time lines border most pages, and effective introductions, the proper amount of white space, and clear dark print maintain organization and clarity. A superior choice.
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