They Saw the Future: Oracles, Psychics, Scientists, Great Thinkers, and Pretty Good Guessers

Kathleen Krull, Author, Kyrsten Brooker, Illustrator Atheneum Books $19.99 (112p) ISBN 978-0-689-81295-8
Krull follows her witty series of cameo biographies (e.g., Lives of the Presidents) with another engrossing volume, this one devoted to 12 individuals who envisioned the future, sometimes with startling accuracy. Subjects run from the oracles of ancient Greece to Leonardo da Vinci and Nostradamus, from the medieval prioress Hildegard of Bingen to Marshall McLuhan. Krull's style is as compelling as her material; she re-creates the locale and era of each subject, often using a second-person address to situate readers directly within the culture. Remaining healthily skeptical throughout, Krull chronicles both the seers' hits (e.g., Jeane Dixon's vision of JFK's assassination) and their misses (Dixon said China would start WW III in 1958). And she raises intriguing questions: ""Did [Jules] Verne really see the future, or were his fictional descriptions so detailed that people used them as blueprints?"" Brooker's (Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street) pensive, mixed-media portraits may not possess the cheeky insight of Kathryn Hewitt's work for the Lives books, but they cast an appropriately dreamy, otherworldly mood. A safe prediction: readers won't be able to tear themselves away. Ages 10-14. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1999
Release date: 06/01/1999
Paperback - 112 pages - 978-1-4814-3623-6
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