Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cybils Nominee!

Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491 Charles C. Mann

This is a young reader's version of Mann's 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.

It's visually stunning and completely changes everything I had ever been taught about what life was like in the Americas before Columbus. I appreciated how it handles some controversies between experts. It gives both sides of the issue in a way that's completely understandable, but still respects the reader's intelligence. Did I mention visually stunning? Really excellent book design. And the content just blew my mind, I can't even begin to get into all of it here without just summarizing the entire book.

My only fault with it lies in the back matter-- or rather, the lack of it. There is no bibliography or source notes (except for illustrations. Lots of source notes for illustration.) I see this a lot with young reader versions of adult nonfiction. The author knows all this, because he/she's essentially condensing and argument already made, a story already told. If we want sources, we can go to the "real" version. They don't want to cite it all over again. Grrrrrrrrrrr. That's not something that really holds with me. Young Readers need sources, too. Also, the "further reading" list has only 13 titles, many of with are written for adults, not Young Readers.

It's too bad, because with better back matter, this could have been an outstanding example of what nonfiction for kids should be like.

Book Provided by... my local library

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1 comment:

C.B. James said...

I read the "adult" version of this and was knocked out by it. It really does make you re-think what you think you know. I would not have picked it as a book for kids, myself. I'll have to take a look.