The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Van Loon (published 1921) was awarded the first Newbery Medal in 1922, an award intended to celebrate the “the most distinguished contributions to American literature for children” that had been published in the previous year. As a volume that hoped to portray history with a conversational style, Van Loon

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As a gorgeous oversized watercolor-and-ink illustrated picture book and poetic tributes, The Late, Great Endlings by Deborah Kerbel, illustrated by Aimee van Drimmelen (Orca Book Publishers, 2022) is a visual delight to peruse. Add to that the factual STEM-theme about extinct animals, and it’s also a necessary reminder that humans have a direct impact on

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Africana: An Encyclopedia of an Amazing Continent by Kim Chakanesta, illustrated by Alabi Mayowa (Quarto Publishing, 2022) is an invaluable new volume for young people that captures basics about the history, landscapes, people, and cultures throughout the regions in Africa. Africa is a giant continent, so obviously one volume will never be enough. Africana provides

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Until I was an adult, I had not heard of Africa’s history and the historical leaders of the entire continent. Other than the Egyptian’s creation of the pyramid and the history of the Nile’s flooding, I don’t remember entering the continent during my years in my 1980s public schools. Beginning in college, I have worked

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My daughter studied Medieval and early modern history recently, and then last year my kindergartner and I studied places around the world. I so enjoy finding amazing picture books about the things we’re learning about, so I really enjoyed finding the historical fiction picture book Therese Makes a Tapestry by Alexandra S.D. Hinrichs, illustrated by

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Extreme Battlefields by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, illustrated by Drew Shannon (Annick Press, 2016) details how ten very unique battles throughout history were shaped by the weather and terrain in which they were fought. in which weather was a deciding factor in the victory or non-victory of the warring parties. From Hannibal in the Alps to

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Trapped Behind Nazi Lines by Eric Brown is a middle grade nonfiction book about a company of medics and nurses that, while flying to Italy during World War II, got lost in the clouds and ended up crash landing in Nazi-occupied Albania. The story tells how upon crash landing their airplane, they were able to

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I am not an expert in battle history or even early modern world history. That said, I’ve always been fascinated by Waterloo due to its appearance in many familiar novels that I’ve enjoyed such as Les Miserables and Vanity Fair. Waterloo seems to have been a defining moment in European history, and Waterloo by Alan Forrest does

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The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination by Barry Strauss (Simon & Schuster, March 2015) examines the traditions of the assassination of Julius Caesar, clearing up the myths (such as Shakespeare’s play) from reality. Analyzing such a historic event from 44 B.C. is not easy since eyewitness accounts are few and far

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Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, 2011) is a lighthearted look at a serious time in Russian history. From the other books, I reviewed this week about Pakistan child slavery and the Sudanese civil war, I have had a heavy week reviewing difficult subjects. Breaking Stalin’s Nose, on the other hand, is

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Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (2011 National Book Award for Young People and Newbery Honor Award) is a novel in poetry about a young girl’s relocation to American from Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It is about the challenge of starting over and the pain of discrimination in a strange new country and

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