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Exploration and Conquest


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About the Author

Betsy Maestro is the author of the American Story series, illustrated by her husband, Giulio. She has also written several other non-fiction picture books, including the Let's-Read-And-Find-Out science books How Do Apples Grow? and Why Do Leaves Change Color? The Maestros live in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Giulio Maestro is the illustrator of over 100 children's books. He has also written his own books of word play and has co-authored two I Can Read Books with his son, Marco: What Do You Hear When Cows Sing, and Other Silly Riddles and Geese Find the Missing Piece: School Time Riddle Rhymes. The Maestros live in Old Lyme, CT.


This ambitious sequel to the Maestros' The Discovery of the Americas begins with a revisionist summation of Christopher Columbus's famous feats: the explorer ``was not the first to discover the Americas. But his voyages led to the European exploration of the New World.'' The book covers more than 130 years of exploration, presenting brief overviews of Magellan, Cortes, Pizarro, Hudson, Drake, Champlain et al. Betsy Maestro also discusses the effects of these incursions on native peoples; she touches upon the African slave trade, the decimation of the Aztec civilization and the general failure of Europeans to honor their agreements with Native Americans. While the writing is clear, the range of information may be too broad for the reader to absorb easily. Each topic receives only a paragraph or two, and important concepts are often reduced to a single sentence. More satisfying is the watercolor-and-pencil art, which vividly depicts the explorers and their exploits. Giulio Maestro captures the essence of his settings-the midnight blues of a nighttime sky at sea, the earthy yellows and browns of the American Southwest, the green, tiered mountains of Central America. Appendixes contain a table of dates; lists of explorers not mentioned in the text; useful summaries; and a list of Native American ``contributions to the world.'' Ages 6-up. (Sept.)

"Vividly depicts the explorers and their exploits."---Publisher's Weekly"The narrative is lively, the characters, the scope panoramic, and the details precise."---The Washington Post

Gr 4-6-This companion to The Discovery of the Americas (Lothrop, 1991) provides an interesting discussion of the European exploration and conquest of the ``New World.'' The author carefully explains that, ``The great gain of one people was the great loss of another'' and traces the disastrous effects that the Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, and Dutch had on the native peoples of the Americas, while acknowledging the benefits the Europeans enjoyed-gold, land, rich natural resources, and power. North, Central, and South America are discussed, as are the beginnings of the African slave trade. Detailed descriptions of the different native cultures are not provided-the focus is on European politics and rivalry-and there are no chapter divisions, which makes the information somewhat difficult to digest. Although the text is occasionally blunt and dry, this is still a good introduction to a complex topic from a multicultural perspective, beautifully illustrated with lush watercolor and colored-pencil drawings.-Cyrisse Jaffee, formerly at Newton Public Schools, MA

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