Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Picture History of Great Explorers

The Picture History of Great Explorers

Gillian Clements
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2009   ISBN: 978-1845074647

We are going to take a journey with men and women  who were sure that great wonders lay beyond the shores of their homelands. In this excellent book, readers will find accounts of the journeys  made by the very first human explorers who walked out of Africa to found new races. They will also meet explorers of not so long ago who went to the bottom of the oceans and up into space. As soon as humans were able to build ships, ride horses, and use the wheel, they began to make journeys to new lands, eager to found colonies, find peoples to trade with, and in some cases, find peoples to raid and steal from.

The author has chosen a fascinating collection of explorers for this history. She begins with Saint Brendan who some believe may have been the first European to discover North America. She then goes on to describe the adventures and journeys of such men as Marco Polo, Henry the Navigator, Amerigo Vespucci, and Jacques Cartier. Her mini biographies are presented in chronological order, which makes it possible to see how the explorers often used the knowledge gathered by a previous explorer to plan their own journeys.

Some of the names in this collection will be familiar, while many others will be new to readers and will give readers the opportunity to see how great men and women from all over the world took great risks to make difficult journeys into unknown lands and across uncharted seas.

Filled with illustrations, maps, and annotations, this is a truly remarkable portrait of our world and our history. At the bottom of every page, readers can see a continuing timeline ,which helps set the scene for many of the accounts. The author is very careful not to over glorify the explorers and their achievements, reminding her readers that many explorers caused great damage in the lands that they visited. Often their journeys were little more than glorified piracy, and not infrequently the peoples they encountered suffered at the hands of the newcomers.