From School Library Journal
Grade 4–7—Twenty-four "lost worlds," both legendary and real, are profiled in this dense, pretty book. "World" is interpreted broadly: the author includes civilizations like Atlantis and Babylon; cities such as Pompeii and Teotihuacan; mythical places like Asgard and Mount Olympus; and the island of Rapa Nui, which is not lost, though certainly diminished. Each chapter opens with an atmospheric, tantalizing description of the city or civilization and follows up with a wealth of detail. Howe presents documented fact, accepted theory, and traditional story, distinguishing among them. The text is supported by well-chosen photos of artifacts and reproductions of art, and of course, Howe's sumptuous, panoramic paintings. While this original art is wonderfully dramatic, it has a static, scenic quality that may appeal more to adult fantasy devotees than to children. More pronunciation help would be welcome, and there are no maps. Geographic representation is gratifyingly evenhanded—Mohenjo-Daro, Cahokia, and Uluru are given as much space as well-known sites like Camelot and Troy. Realistically, however, the type is small and the text somewhat dry—kids will enjoy leafing through for the pictures but may not sit down to read it.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD
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A large, clear lens embedded in the front cover of this far-ranging browsing title invites readers to step through to a series of quick stops at over two dozen vanished cultures. In no particular order and freely mixing history with myth, Howe slips from the Garden of Eden to Pompeii, Atlantis to Cahokia, Babylon to Faerie, pausing for one to three pages of general remarks about what each was or might have been like, then moving on. He closes with a section of even shorter notes on 35 more real or storied sites. Bringing his experience as a concept artist for the filmed Lord of the Rings (Gandalf—er, Ian McKellan even provides an introduction) to bear, he depicts each featured locale at its height with handsome, dramatic painted tableaux and expert pencil sketches. Like Dugald Steer’s Explorer: A Daring Guide for Young Adventurers (2007), this will be just the ticket for armchair travel. Grades 4-6. --John Peters