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The Story of Salt Hardcover – September 7, 2006
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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.
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
Top customer reviews
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.
The importance of salt throughout the ages was clarified in many places as in our own history when we declared our independence from England, and our own large scale salt industry sprang up, after England cut off our salt supply.
It is hard to believe that the authors could get so many interesting facts told in such an absorbing way in a 48pp book with numerous illustrations and a great two page timeline of important events in the history of salt placed at the end.
This not only makes a nice reference for late grade and middle school kids, but a fun book that parents will enjoy reading themselves. Highly recommended.
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. the English and the Portuguese, the Germans and Italians. Prior to the War for Independence, the colonists traded their Virginia hams for Liverpool's salt. The war forced colonists to find their own salt source, which they did to became independent in more ways than one.
A highly informative text loaded with illustrations, this book could well serve teachers and librarians in web research projects: salt in the middle with all the peripheral products and events spoking outward, with each one assigned to a team or group to research further, then create a powerpoint or other software presentation. Think of the multiple intelligences generated, much as salt generates other things. And certainly not common!
A highly fascinating and recommended book!