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Biography for Beginners:
World Explorers

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November 15, 2003

This volume contains 102 entries, arranged in alphabetical order, on people who have broadened our knowledge of the world and is a follow-up to Biography for Beginners: Presidents of the United States (Omnigraphics, 1998). Black-and-white maps, as well as black-and-white drawings and photographs, appear on nearly every two-page spread. The text is written at a fourth-grade reading level, and the entries are geared toward students "in grades two through five who are studying world explorers for the first time." The text should be very appealing to the early reader, with short, easy-to-read sentences.

Explorer is defined here "as someone from the past 2,500 years...who left his or her native land and traveled to an area that was unknown to them." Subjects include traditional explorers as well as scientists, astronauts, and mapmakers. There are also summary entries on specific groups whose collective contributions are important to the history of discovery, such as the Phoenicians and the Vikings. Each entry begins with a heading listing the explorer's name, birth and death dates, nationality, and a brief description of the individual's importance to the history of exploration. Certain entries conclude with a list of Internet sites with more information. Some readers may find it confusing that within the articles both cross-references and terms appearing in the glossary are indicated by bold type.

Individuals covered range from Hanno of Carthage (c. 500 B.C.E.) to Mae Jemison. Also profiled are Alexander the Great, Kit Carson, Leif Eriksson, and Amerigo Vespucci. The text concludes with a glossary, time line, subject index, and indexes by nationality of explorer and area of exploration. One note: although the text uses the terms Indian and Native American interchangeably, indicating the term Indian is not a pejorative, some readers and communities may feel otherwise, This title would be a useful addition in elementary-school libraries as well as in public libraries.

School Library Journal

December, 2003

Grade 3-6-This alphabetically arranged encyclopedia includes entries on 100 explorers from around the world, from 500 B.C to the 20th century. Familiar individuals, such as Henry Hudson, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Gertrude Bell, and Yuri Gagarin are profiled, as are the lesser-known Benjamin of Tudela, Pedro Alvares Cabral, Faxian, and Fridtjof Nansen. Average-quality, black-and-white reproductions, photographs, and maps marked with the routes these intrepid men and women followed appear throughout. For the most part, the individuals' lives are presented chronologically, with a summary of their accomplishments at the end. The profiles conclude with Web sites, which will be a good source of primary material. The volume ends with appendixes that list the explorers by nationality and area of exploration, and a chronology that begins at 1100 B.C. A subject index lists main entries in bold print. Peggy Saari and Daniel B. Baker's Explorers and Discoverers (UXL, 1995) is for slightly older students and does not include Web sites. World Explorers will satisfy research needs.

Librarian's Comments
"Excellent for reports! Not too much info for young children to wade through."
--Kay B. Johnson, Nashville, TN

"These are so on target for my school--looking forward to other volumes."
--Mary Ellen Malloy, Mullica Hill, NJ

"Long enough to get main points across--not too long to lose readers' interest. Fits well into 3rd and 5th grade curriculum. Great source for my library."
--Jane Dodson, Columbus, NE

"Very appealing and user friendly. . . perfect for our school's grades 3-5. I'm excited to have it in our collection."
--Dawn Barkman, East Longmeadow, MA

"Wonderful scope of diverse peoples--gender, nationalities, historic periods, types of exploration. This will be a great addition to the collection."
--Cathy Brockington, Scotts, MI

"This is exactly what I was looking for!"
--Linda Mistretta, Goffstown, NH

"It's nice to have something our grade schoolers can comprehend. The children like being able to get the basics without having to 'sift through' a bunch of big words and extra 'fluff'. This is wonderful."
--Lenette Bailey, Cottage Grove, OR


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