The Human Race

Quarto/QEB. Oct. 2020. 96p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780711256682.
Gr 2-6–How has competition shaped our world? This title sets out to answer that question. Double-page spreads are dedicated to specific events within the general topic. In the chapter “Faster, Higher, Farther,” there are spreads covering track and field events, the history of the Olympics, the Paralympics, and Michael Phelps. Each page provides fascinating facts: “The oldest [skis] found so far date from about 8000 BC—nearly 5,000 years before we invented the wheel!” Short paragraphs and graphical elements, such as time lines, help readers understand the topic fully. O’Malley’s bold illustrations use deeply saturated colors. A table of contents and an index allows readers to easily find what they seek. However, there are some references that contain implicit bias. A spread about Christopher Columbus presents a sanitized, Eurocentric version of his accomplishments. According to the text, he was a gifted Italian navigator who “was hailed as a hero for finding a sailing route to Asia.” There is no mention of the less flattering details about his legacy, including slavery and the quest for money. The explorers are called “conquerors.” In the subsection “Heat! The Race Across Australia,” details about Aboriginal people are limited to a few sentences. The illustrations of everyday people include tan-skinned and dark-skinned men and women.
VERDICT Although this title presents an engaging historical overview, the strong European perspective mars the content. Readers seeking a more inclusive version of history should look elsewhere.

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