Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Kingfisher Atlas of World History

The Kingfisher Atlas of World History

Simon Adams
Illustrator:  Katherine Baxter , Mark Bergin , Kevin Maddison 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 9 to 12
Kingfisher, 2010   ISBN: 978-0753463888

For many people, history is a confusing subject that is speckled with too many names and dates to remember. It is hard to get a sense of what happened when, and how the pieces of the story fit together.

In this book, the author gives his readers an overview of world history from 10,000 BC to the present day. The book is divided into four sections: The ancient world, the medieval world, exploration and empire, and the modern world. Each section begins with a general look at that period in history using a double page spread map of the world. This is followed by an informative section with text and annotated photos. Then the more in depth exploration begins. Every double page spread shows an up-close map of part of the world with notes, annotations, and illustrations on it. A timeline runs down the side of the right hand page so that readers get a sense of where they are, historically speaking. There are also mini chapters mixed in with the maps that provide readers with background information about topics that are relevant to that section.

For example, the Exploration and Empire section begins with a map that shows readers what is going to be discussed in the chapter. We can see that we are going to find out about the Incas, the Aztecs, the Moguls in India, and the British convicts in Australia, among other things. There are page references on the map itself for readers who know what they are interested in. Everyone else can begin by reading about “The World 1450-1800: What we know about the past.” This is followed by a map that shows some of the most famous voyages of discovery that were made in this time period. Mixed in with the maps in this section readers will find mini chapters about the Renaissance, the slave trade, and the intellectual revolution.

This beautifully presented and carefully researched book presents history in a new way that will show young readers that history does not have to be dull and dry. Quite the contrary.