This fascinating narrative introduces young readers to the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica. Evolving from their primitive ways to complex societies, these ancient peoples left records for archaeologists to piece together to glean what these peoples were really like more than 3,000 years ago. Among the civilizations examined are the Olmec, Zapotec, Aztec, and Maya. Lands, cultures, religions, and daily life activities are considered, as well as the colossal rock heads of the Olmec that still exist, the maguey plant that the Zapotec grew and used for making houses, and the temple at Chichn Itz, among other remarkable facts and achievements.
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Gr 6–8—This attractive but dry set explores the histories of ancient cultures. The books share a four-to five chapter structure that covers standard ancient history topics, such as the culture's origins; societal, governmental, and military structures; the daily lives of its people, and eventual decline. There is enough organizational variation to allow authors to emphasize the most important aspects of each civilization, rather than adhering to a strict format; for instance, Greece and Rome focus on lasting cultural contributions. Analysis of legacies varies in length from a paragraph to a chapter, and books don't always incorporate or cite the latest research or discoveries. North American Cultures is the weakest title, with superficial coverage of numerous tribes from prehistory to the present. Above-average illustrations include maps, reproductions of art, and photos of artifacts and locations, while paragraph-length sidebars add facts. VERDICT Suitable report choices.
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