Christopher Columbus and the Taino People

Random. (History Smashers). Aug. 2023. 224p. lib. ed. $12.99. ISBN 9780593564271.
Gr 3-7–Messner continues her “History Smashers” nonfiction series with this eighth installment about the infamous Christopher Columbus and his encounters with the Taínos, one of the Indigenous groups that lived in the Caribbean for thousands of years before 1492. Coauthored by Taíno scholar Barreiro, this volume thoroughly bursts the bubble of any Columbus defenders who venerate the explorer for supposedly discovering the Americas. This outing organizes the history by Columbus’s four voyages, detailing his quest to find a route to Asia and his multiple failures to do so. Along the way, readers learn about how actively involved he was in the fashioning and falsifying of his own narrative and how he used the recently created Gutenberg printing press to propagate the lies that have been taught in our history textbooks. The engaging design captures the humorous tone of the work. Peppered throughout with Koch’s comics-style panels and funny but educational asides, this highly visual package offers a layered and well-rounded presentation of the true nature of the “Age of Exploration” and the genocide of an entire group of people. Reproductions, photos, maps, a time line focusing on the Taínos, recommended reading, and a bibliography back up the ample research. With witty text and entertaining sidebars that add context, this highly illustrated myth-buster will entice reluctant readers and history buffs alike.
VERDICT Libraries will want to add where Nathan Hale’s “Hazardous Tales,” and the previous “History Smashers” are popular. This accessible curricular tie-in is perfect for history units.

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