School Library Journal - 09/01/2005 Gr 1-4-Another offering from the creative team that brought readers So You Want to Be President? (2000) and So You Want to Be an Inventor? (2002, both Philomel).The artist frames the text with a wordless depiction of a young boy trying on different hats in his room filled with a variety of artifacts. The text then seems to address the daydreaming child directly as he envisions himself setting sail for adventure. Most spreads describe two or more explorers, but only one is depicted. Small's masterful artwork, done in ink, watercolor, and pastel chalk, is full of humorous details. The explorers are primarily European and American, but cover a wide-ranging time period, from Pytheas and Alexander the Great to the present day. A short paragraph describes their claim to fame. The book is intended to inspire and intrigue browsers, not to serve as a resource for report writers. St. George includes a wide variety of explorers and expedition participants. For example, when she discusses the North Pole, Robert Peary, Matthew Henson, and four Inuits are mentioned. Women such as Mary Kingsley, Amelia Earhart, and Barbara Washburn are cited. The relationship between exploration and mapmaking and the damage done to native peoples by some explorers are also touched upon. A "Glossary of Famous Explorers" lists full names and birth and death dates, and provides a little more information about the people mentioned. While the short snippets of information may be frustrating to some readers, the snappy tone of the text and the richly drawn illustrations will satisfy and entertain many others.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. - Copyright 2005 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 10/01/2005 If President (BCCB 7/00) isn’t exciting enough, and Inventor (BCCB 10/02) is too sedentary, St. George and Small offer readers a third career option in their now familiar series: consider the life of an explorer. There are explorers who “tackle a quest with gusto,” such as Alexander the Great and Thor Heyerdahl; there are risk takers, such as mountain climber Barbara Washburn and test pilot Chuck Yeager. Some focus on firsts: circumnavigating the globe by spacecraft (Yuri Gagarin) or on foot (David Kunst—but how he crossed the oceans is left a mystery). Others find fame in failure: Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic near-misses, and Amelia Earhart’s mid-flight disappearance. St. George encourages readers to think broadly about what constitutes exploration, including not only the big names in earth, sea, and space travel, but also Francis Collins and Craig Venter, “who decoded the human DNA ‘letters’ in 2000.” A collection like this really needs the background knowledge of Presidents to work most effectively; without it, the result is ultimately an enticing but disjointed collection of underexplained trivia. Information flies by at warp speed, and claims that aren’t adequately nuanced will raise some questions: was the Kon-Tiki voyage really “proof positive” that “Westerns could have sailed from Peru to Polynesia thousands of years ago? How did the northerly Inuit manage to help Roald Amundsen on his trip to the South Pole? Nonetheless, St. George and Small have their audience pegged—kids thirsty for lightning-fast factoids accompanied by high energy, comical caricatures that refuse to treat must-know personages with the textbook reverence they generally enjoy. Report writers can cull the glossary for topic tips if they must, but expect this to find its real berth with the casual page-thumbers. - Copyright 2005 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 09/15/2005 So You Want to Be an Inventor? (2003), the follow-up to St. George and Small's Caldecott Medal-winning So You Want to Be a President? (2000), attracted some criticism for lionizing white males. Explorer improves upon that problem (five women make appearances, as do Colonel Peary's African American assistant Matthew Henson and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay), but encounters another: How does one craft a light, fun picture book about an area of endeavor so closely aligned with the checkered history of conquest? Humor is one way: St. George writes that Africa traveler Mary Kingsley studied the cannibals, and they studied her. Elsewhere, explorers are crisply divided into good and bad; good explorers respect the natives, and bad explorers can do the natives in. The glib tone may seem inappropriate to some, but teachers and librarians will still find lots of uses for this book. The annotated list of featured explorers and the bibliography will support exploration research projects, and St. George's gung-ho language combined with Small's sprightly depictions will help ratchet up student enthusiasm. - Copyright 2005 Booklist.