In this biography of a 16th century English sea captain, the young reader is asked to determine if Sir Francis Drake was a thief or a hero in the first chapter. Drake is portrayed as a sea dog, a slave trader, a commoner, an executioner, and a pirate who raided and attacked Spanish ships and ports. That he sailed around the world between 1577 and 1580 was more to avoid the Spanish than to claim this accomplishment for Queen Elizabeth. The main goals of the expedition at that time were to establish trade where Spain had none, search for a South Seas continent, and gain more treasure. Sailing around the world was an end result. A double-page spread maps the world journey taken by Drake and is excellent in its simplicity. Drake's story includes his command of a ship in the English Channel to battle the Spanish Armada. Part of the "Explorers" series, the book is illustrated with stock images, includes an occasional "Would You?" question, captions for all illustrations, a glossary, pronunciation key and an index. A curious timeline, color-coded by century, is found at the bottom of each page stretching from 1450 to 1997. It highlights landmark events of the 12 explorers in the series. Do not look for the timeline to refer exclusively to the subject of the biography. 2004, ABDO Publishing Company, Ages 9 to 12.
Jacki Vawter, Ph.D.