Junior Biography from Ancient Civilizations

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Children's Bookwatch, April 2014

On Marco Polo

Marco Polo is an exciting, concise biography of the famous Italian explorer of over 700 years ago. With a compelling narrative enhanced with authentic color illustrations taken from period paintings, writings, and related material, Marco Polo is a reliable verifying resource for young adults and teens. Educational sidebars presenting crucial background information are featured throughout, outlining precious added depth of historical context. Containing five chapters, a chronology, timeline, and chapter notes, Marco Polo covers the major events (including a world widening journey from Venice to Cathay and back) of an exciting explorer/ journalist's life for modern young readers.

Booklist, November 1, 2013

On Archimedes, Genghis Khan, Leif Erikson, and Nero

The Junior Biographies from Ancient Civilizations series brings its subjects to life by focusing on some of history's most famous (and infamous) names. Each volume establishes a context of the civilizations from which each subject sprang. The story of Archimedes begins with his famous "Eureka!" moment and then goes back to look at his boyhood, mathematical training, and the impact he had on ancient Greek civilization—as well as much further into the future. Genghis Khan's history, although drawn from more contemporary sources, is somewhat muddled. Readers may have trouble distinguishing between Khan's various siblings as well as the myriad tribes that he fought with. Still, this is a fascinating character study, and the history of the Mongols and their conquests is well woven in. Leif Erikson, the Viking explorer, was a hero in his own lifetime. The focus here is on Erikson's voyage to Canada, where he became one of the first white men to see the new land. Roman emperor Nero was trouble almost from the beginning. His murderous mother, Agrippina, killed off his uncle Claudius, so that she could rule through his heir, Nero. That didn't happen, and as Nero descended into madness, he followed the family tradition of killing many of his relatives. The books are a solid blending of art and text, with lengthy, illustrated sidebars doing the heavy lifting when it comes to explaining societies' mores.

School Library Journal, November 2013

On Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Leif Erikson, Marco Polo, Nero, and Archimedes

This series attempts to keep readers' interest by making the narratives flow like stories, including imagined dialogue and descriptive passages. The problem with this sort of presentation is that it might be hard for students doing research to extract specific facts. Also, speculative statements such as, "He was probably more upset that people found out that he had her killed" in Nero create a sense of unreliability. That said, a lot of information is provided, and the texts are compelling introductions. Full-page text boxes supplement the main text along with captioned photos, reproductions, and maps. Though these volumes are not strong report resources, they are additional purchases for collections in which readers' interest in ancient history is high.