Monday, April 29, 2019

Nonfiction Monday

The Renaissance Thinkers with History Projects for Kids, by Diane C. Taylor is part of the Renaissance For Kids Series from Nomad Press. In this volume, Taylor structures her work around chapter biographies of Filippo Brunelleschi, Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas More, Nicolaus Copernicus, and Francis Bacon as a means of introducing readers to some of the most influential thinkers of that time.

An introduction examines the Renaissance in terms of economic change, religious conflict, technological advances, and the effects of humanism. Each chapter utilizes primary sources and a timeline to trace important life stages from early years through the influences that shaped each thinker, to their greatest areas of impact and on to their legacy. And finally, readers are confronted with interesting topics to consider and/or debate. How have the innovations utilized by Brunelleschi in designing the Florence Cathedral influenced architecture? Do “The ends justify the means” as Machiavelli contended? How has Thomas More’s concept of Utopia been interpreted by writers in the present day? Why did it take so long for the discovery, by astronomer Copernicus, that the earth revolved around the sun to be accepted as fact[J1] ? In what way does the scientific method described by Francis Bacon shape modern research?
Readers are challenged to ask questions and use critical thinking skills in response to a series of hands-on projects that are offered at the end of each chapter. Photographs highlight the subjects and provide historical context. Multiple text boxes offer additional facts, quotes, and insights to broaden the scope of each concept. Calls to action are strategically placed throughout: Wonder Why? poses additional questions for consideration.  Connect contains QR codes for audio and video files. Words of Wonder directs readers to a multi-page glossary at the end of the book. Resources provides a list of books, videos, and museums for further exploration.
The book is fascinating, informative, and a pleasure to read. The text and illustrations are richly detailed. The book is identified as being for ages 10-15. The conversational tone and age-appropriate vocabulary is appealing. However, conversations about the philosophical, political, and cultural atmospheres, particularly those related to Machiavelli and More, will benefit from adult guidance. The scientific material is clearer and provides easier discussion points.
Recommended for home and school libraries.


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