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The Story of Salt Hardcover – September 7, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3-6–Using the same format as in The Cod's Tale (Putnam, 2001), Kurlansky uses salt as the lens through which to present a new perspective on history. Chiseling the story down from his adult book Salt: A World History (Penguin, 2003), the author mixes science, history, and personal anecdotes, resulting in a fascinating look at this amazing substance. He defines its make-up, examines the ways it appears in nature, and discusses the important role it has played in various civilizations through the ages. Schindler's humorously detailed pen-and-ink drawings with colorful washes enliven the narrative and help to convey the wealth of information in the text. Data and illustrated graphs and maps further enhance the presentation. A lively and well-researched title, with exemplary art.–Carol S. Surges, McKinley Elementary School, Wauwatosa, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-6. As in The Cod's Tale (2001), this author-illustrator team has again adapted an adult best-seller by Kurlansky into a picture book that brings astonishing history, science, and technology to middle-grade readers. The tone is occasionally condescending ("nearly 2000 years before!"), and some of the text, which is printed on the colored pictures, is not easy to read. But the informal narrative and the exquisitely detailed, sometimes playful ink-and-watercolor illustrations dramatize the sweeping world history of salt's essential role in human life--from prehistoric times and the early voyages of discovery through the breakthrough of refrigeration and the latest drilling technology. One unforgettable illustration shows defiant Gandhi leading thousands on his famous Salt March to the ocean to protest being forced to buy salt from the British. There's also a wry cartoon of Uncle Sam shaking a saltcellar on top of the globe, controlling the salt trade today. An illustrated time line sums up "Salt through the Centuries." A great cross-curricular title. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 1110L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (September 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399239987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399239984
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 0.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #697,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Kurlansky is a New York Times bestselling and James A. Beard Award-winning author. He is the recipient of a Bon Appétit American Food and Entertaining Award for Food Writer of the Year, and the Glenfiddich Food and Drink Award for Food Book of the year.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Maria Beadnell on December 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A deceptively easy and entertaining read, this book is filled with fascinating information, such as:

Whoever controls the world's salt supply is the superpower (right now it's the US!)

Salt is necessary to the functioning of our bodies--which is part of why early humans ate meat (and why we still crave salty pretzels).

Roads in many places in America wind so much because of the meanderings of animals in search of salt.

The research seems thorough (not my area of expertise but it has the ring of truth to it) and the facts are well-presented. Nice illustrations, too.

I was initially put off by the title "The Story of Salt"--yikes, that sounded dull. And in the hands of someone else it might have been. This is such an enjoyable read I'll be looking for anything else by this author.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus VINE VOICE on November 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Salt. Who would have thought something so simple, so seemingly common (to Americans) could control the world? Can it? Does it? Mark Kurlansky and S.D. Schindler reveal the significant and necessary role of salt in man's history in The Story of Salt, a condensed version of Salt: A World History, Kurlansky's best-seller for adults.

Speaking of canning, the duo show the discovery of canning with airtight, heated jars (p. 38). Just as with the discovery of salt as a preservative, then the next step in salt's progress was canning and frozen foods.

But back to the beginning. That is what the book does: It shows textually and pictorially how seeking sources of salt became essential to the growth of civilizations. As wanderers, men could eat the flesh of animals and get a necessary amount of salt. However, once people formed settlements, they had to go out to find salt sources. In nearly all cases, by-products were discovered: natural gas, secondary foods (cheese, sauerkraut, bacon), international trade, soy sauce, mummies, transporting without spoilage, salt fish, exploration, trade organizations, meatpacking, roads, new industries, independence, and oil drilling. This is a significant list. Each item is featured, illustrated, explained in a delightful manner from one block to a two-page spread of artwork and text.

For example, in Hallein, a Celtic settlement whose name means "saltwork," Celts used salt to preserve the thigh of hog to create ham. A block on the next page (23) shows a preserved Celt (known by their colorful clothing), who had been trapped in a collapsed salt mine around 400 B.C.

Other examples are the trade organizations formed by seacoast countries with cod fishing and inland countries with salt mines, e.g.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Educator, Lifelong Learner on November 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating story accompanied by gorgeous illustrations, author and illustrator manage to convey some very complex and far reaching events in a way that is completely understandable. Lots for anyone to learn and the illustrations are very fine.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Gonson on September 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I ordered this book for my son, who loves science, because I loved the adult version so much.
It is a fantastic abbreviation. Mark Kurlansky was brilliant to make compelling but clear kids' versions of his already excellent publications!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D_shrink VINE VOICE on July 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is basically a nicely illustrated book designed for the young student interested in chemistry, geography, geology, and history - and to make it even better, as an adult I learned quite a few things that I didn't know about salt. For the more advanced group, I would like to say that salts are precipitates of the joining of a acid and base. e.g. when one part HCL [hydrochloric acid] is added to one part NAOH [sodium hydroxide] - think drain cleaner in this case; we are left with one part table salt NACL and one part water H2O [which can also be written as HOH.

The authors begin with an explanation of how most of the surface salt on the earth is formed by solar evaporation of sea water. I found it interesting to learn that rock salt is still mined underground near the cities of Detroit and Cleveland, which now explains why some northern states use salt to thaw the ice and snow on roads in the winter - its relatively cheap. The USA produces the most salt of any country in the world with the largest mines near Salt Lake City.

One fact that I found interesting was why modern roads seem to meander so much rather than go in straight lines. Well, it seems they simply followed old animal paths that the animals had followed in their quest of looking for the next salt lick, as all mammals require salt for survival.

We learn how salt was used to preserve many types of food and eventually lead to some of our favorite foods of today as bacon, ham, and even ketchup, with the Egyptians being the first to use preservation on a large scale.
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Format: Hardcover
A FABULOUS book for children (and adults) to learn the history behind the discovery of salt and how it has been used through the centuries. Did you know that the two compounds that make up salt, by themselves are dangerous? NA+ is sodium and is so unstable it easily bursts into flame. CL- is chlorine which is a deadly poisonous gas! Yet, when put together there is a chemical reactions "and the resulting compound, sodium chloride, is neither explosive or poisonous". Amazing!

So, what about the history of salt? Learn how a man, Li Bing, discovered springs of salty water in China. Salt mines can be found all over the world "and one mine in southern Poland even has ornate rooms carved out of salt".

Once folks discovered that salt could be used to preserve food it changed the way countries traded and how people traveled. What country is the largest producer of salt? Did you know that salt paid for the Great Wall of China? Learn how soy sauce was first made. Where did the Egyptians get all their salt? What could it be traded for in some places? What group of people learned to make ham? What is garum? Would you like it?

Learn which country used to preserve prisoners who died before coming to trial! When Louis XIV raised taxes on salt, how many men, women, children were arrested each year for smuggling? Do you know the name of an ornate salt dispenser that graced the royal tables of France? In what year did the British, after arriving in North America, start and salt works and where?

The Erie Canal played a big part in getting salt to the new territories. Learn how Buffalo, NY got its name! Fascinating! What part did Clarence Birdseye play in history? How about Nicolas Appert?
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