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By combining poetry, history, concise biographies, and the dramatic story of how the dreaded mosquitos were conquered, the author documents one of history's greatest engineering feats
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Grade 3-6?A fascinating mixture of history and biography. Parker begins by illustrating James Stanley Gilbert's poem "Beyond the Chagres," which vividly portrays the horrific dangers of the jungle. However, the watercolor, pen, and colored-pencil illustrations lighten the tone somewhat. In the pages that follow, the author presents the history of the region, beginning with the earliest explorers over 400 years ago and continuing through the completion of the canal to its uses and status today. She also offers brief biographies of the significant people involved in the venture. The importance of the canal and its costs in human, monetary, and ecological terms are objectively presented. The wonderfully clear and detailed maps and drawings are extraordinarily helpful in supporting the clearly written, informative text, while Parker's portraits of the people provide the touch of humor that is characteristic of much of her nonfiction. (The snake slithering above Teddy Roosevelt's head is a perfect example.) An exceptional work that deserves a place in every collection, and that will serve nicely as an introduction to Judith St. George's The Panama Canal (Putnam, 1989).?Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, New York City
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Subtitled ``The Story of the Panama Canal,'' this is a lively panorama of canal history, from pig-farmer-turned-explorer, Balboa, who discovered the Isthmus of Panama, to ambitious American President Theodore Roosevelt who seized the Isthmus and ``left Congress . . . to debate me.'' The decade-long American canal- building effort took engineering genius, an army of mosquito fighters, millions of dollars, and a devastating loss of lives to create ``the eighth wonder of the world.'' In a witty account that makes full use of entertaining detail, Parker (Working Frog, 1992, etc.) blends mesmerizing profiles, amiable illustrations (including wryly illustrated cautionary verse by a poet who succumbed to ``malaria's poisonous breath''), plus maps and diagrams of everything from scorpions and mosquitos to the canal itself. (index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-10) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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