HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: New Found World
Author: Katherine Binney Shippen
Illustrator: C. B. Falls
Publisher: Viking Children’s Books, fourth printing edition in 1964
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 12-16
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Shippen, Katherine Binney. New Found World (published in 1945 by The Junior Literary Guild of The Viking Press, New York City, NY). This young person’s history of Latin America, covering A.D. 1400 to 1942, opens with a chapter describing the geography, flora, and fauna of Meso- and South America. The rest of the 27 chapters begin with earliest inhabitants such as the Aztec, the Mayan, and the Inca civilizations; continue through the exploits of the Portuguese and Spanish explorers who first developed Latin America and the Conquistadors whose search for El Dorado brought colonization and development of the area, along with the coming of Christianity; and come down to the national struggle for independence from the colonial powers. The last three chapters discuss the trial and error of the experiments in government; how modern transportation methods (railroads, highways, and airplanes) and the coming of World War II affected the region; and the development of the arts (poetry, music, and painting). There are also a time line chart, bibliography, and index.
Author Katherine B. Shippen provides readers with a brief overview of Latin America. Those who think that all history is just boring would not be interested in this book. However, for those who enjoy reading about the past, New Found World, a Newbery Medal Nominee (Honor Book) in 1946, is not presented in the dry, dusty style of modern textbooks but in a talented narrative form that distills key events and promotes key individuals. Shippen does not gloss over problems such as the mistreatment and enslavement of Indians, but neither does she overemphasize them, balancing the account with how the standard of living was ultimately improved for the Native Americans, many of whom had delighted in slaughtering their neighboring tribes and offering human sacrifices. The scholarship on the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incans may be somewhat out of date, but this book is thoroughly researched and is a wonderful introduction to the study of Latin America.