27 February 2012

27 February 2012–An Isabel Soto two-fer


Images courtesy  Capstone Press

Written by: Agnieszka Biskup, Illustrated by Roger Stewart
Capstone Press, 2012
ISBN: (Pyramids) 978-1-4296-7992-3, (Pirates!) 978-1-4296-7991-6
$7.95 (paperback), Ages 8 - 14

Intrepid History/Anthropology researcher Isabel Soto is back in two new adventures for late elementary early middle school kids. In Egypt’s Mysterious Pyramids, “Izzy” as she likes to be called, uses her time travel device the W.I.S.P. to venture back into ancient Egypt to try and find a new pyramid. Along the way, she speaks with architects and laborers about the how and why the last remaining wonders of the ancient world were built.

In Captured by Pirates!, “Izzy” ends up on an English ship that is attacked by pirates, and is subsequently captured along with the ship’s doctor. During her enforced “stay”, she learns all about the benefits and drawbacks of being a pirate. While there was good money to be made, it  was often a short, brutal life.

Isabel is a very affirmative role model for young ladies, and there’s enough action to keep the boys interested as well. The subject matter is well researched, and presented in such a way as to be enjoyable without being dry or pedantic. Biskup is no stranger to these types of books, and her writing style is engaging and flows easily, while Stewart’s artwork goes hand in hand with the story to really bring the information alive and emphasize the grandeur of the subject.

Final Thoughts
The Isabel Soto series is a fantastic series that really strives to present history and archeology in a fun and inviting way that kids who are starting to learn about these subjects will enjoy greatly. The character of Soto is smart, friendly, tough, and a definite role-model to look up to. My only question is how does “Izzy” manage to warp into these areas without freaking the locals out? Other than that minor quibble, I cannot recommend this series enough. Libraries really need at least two copies of each of these books, because they’re going to be seeing a lot of use. 

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