Very interesting memoir - a combination of the author's experiences learning Hindi in India, and explanations of neurological and psychological researVery interesting memoir - a combination of the author's experiences learning Hindi in India, and explanations of neurological and psychological research on learning a second language. I learned a lot about India (especially Hindu nationalism and conflicts between Hindu and Muslims) and the benefits and of speaking two languages - and the difficulties in learning another language as an adult. There are also some interesting insights into deaf culture in different countries, and sign language in India. ...more
This is a kid's (older elementary/tween/young teen) book produced by National Geographic that I ran across after reading White Masai - I wondered whatThis is a kid's (older elementary/tween/young teen) book produced by National Geographic that I ran across after reading White Masai - I wondered what this memoir by a Masai man would add to my perception of this African culture that Hofmann's books overlooked.
It did add some interesting insights into Masai culture, but man this is one patriarchal society. Lekuton also describes the religious & social importance of age-mates and circumcision (which happens for boys between the ages of 12-20), but not much about girls or women is mentioned. The only woman that even comes up is Lekuton's mother. It was a little disappointing (but definitely less annoying than Hofmann in terms of the narrator ). ...more
I was disappointed in this book after being excited by the cover, a glance at the illustrations, and the subject. A comparison of prehistoric cities iI was disappointed in this book after being excited by the cover, a glance at the illustrations, and the subject. A comparison of prehistoric cities in the New World - Cahokia (near St. Louis), and Mayan, Aztec, and Incan cities, with some explanation of what makes a city and how it comes to be is a wonderful and long overdue topic for a kid's book.
Unfortunately, "Buried Beneath Us" is rather confusing (as other reviewers note, the text jumps from one city & ancient culture to another very quickly), and I think that the blocks of text are too long for the target audience. The vocabulary is difficult for younger kids and a bit dry, too (e.g. "The foundations of religious worship probably go back to Paleolithic times. Humans have always depended on the proliferation of other species..." (pg. 49).
Religion is given priority both for origins and its role in the day-to-day life of these civilizations, but the other elements that contributed to the emergence, function, and growth of prehistoric cities (hereditary political power, warfare, agriculture, population growth, specialization, etc.) are given short shrift.
I was willing to go along with this perspective and style (if not overlook it entirely) for the sake of the narrative, but a couple of basic errors about Cahokia stopped me in my tracks.
First of all, Cahokia was not "built on bluff overlooking the Mississippi River" (p. 14). As any visit or a look at a description of the site shows, Cahokia was constructed on the floodplain, in an area known as the American Bottom (a geographic name that rivals Lake Titicaca in its snicker-potential for kids).
Futhermore, we do not know that "Cahokia's biggest holiday of the year happened in mid-July", nor that this was called "the Busk Festival" (p. 28). Aveni is careful to separate speculation about prehistoric religion from established archaeological fact elsewhere (as in the evidence for human sacrifice at Cahokia), so this statement attributing Cahokian ceremony to the historic Cherokee was surprising.
One sentence mentioning "smallpox and other diseases to which the natives were not immune" (p. 75) is overshadowed by lengthy descriptions of political unrest and Spanish alliances with Aztec and Incan neighbors, which may lead kids to believe that Tenochtitlan and Cuzco fell (like Cahokia and the Mayan cities) as part of a natural process or as a result of the Spanish invasion, instead of a result of deadly epidemics that may have killed 9 out of 10 people in these areas.
So yeah. Disappointing. But maybe some snippets of text or illustration will inspire some kids to examine what's "Buried Beneath Us" further.