Great Stories from British History by Geraldine McCaughrean and Richard Brassey
|Great Stories from British History by Geraldine McCaughrean and Richard Brassey|
|Category: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Is it a history book which is really a storybook or the other way round? Either way - it's brilliant: educational in a quiet, enjoyable way and a great read even for an adult.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: September 2011|
|Publisher: Orion Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Since when was History True? is the heading of the first chapter and it's one which you need to read before you buy this beautiful book because it would be easy to assume from the title and the pictures on the cover that it's a history text book you're going to invest in. In some ways you are but what you are actually acquiring is a story book. This is a book of the great stories of British history. Some of them are (broadly) true, some have been debunked by historians and some have simply fallen into disuse – but Geraldine McCaughrean would hate to see them lost altogether.
Where the story (or common retellings of it, such as the story of King Canute) and the truth are not closely related there's a panel to the side of the story giving the facts. The story of Lady Godiva's naked ride through Coventry was first written down some two centuries after it supposedly happened and the character of Tom Henny – Peeping Tom – was added even later, but was is true is that Lady Godiva was the generous benefactor suggested by the story.
There's an excellent index (and I love to see children introduced as early as possible to the joys of a good index) and every story is brought brilliantly to life by the illustrations of Richard Brassey. They're quirky, they're colourful, they're fun and they're relevant and it can have been no small task to illustrate a book which ranges from Gogmagog and the Exiles of Troy (about 1100 BC) through to the story of the twenty-first century's Hadron Collider.
The best part of the book for me is Geraldine McCaughrean's writing. It's simple, direct and the stories jump off the page. She's one of the best storytellers around – if not the best. Personally, I think she probably is. This book could have been a mish-mash of folk tales and half-truths which confused the young reader but instead of that, it's a book which is quietly educational in a non-preachy way and one which is difficult to put down – whatever your age.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag. We also have a review of George and the Dragon and a World of Other Stories by Geraldine McCaughrean.
For a factual history of England targeted at adults but entirely suitable for the older tween and teen reader we can recommend A Short History of England by Simon Jenkins. For more from Richard Brassey have a look at The Story of the Olympics. For a more straightforward history of Britain The Story of Britain by Patrick Dillon and P J Lynch comes highly recommended. Adults might appreciate A World By Itself: A History of the British Isles by Jonathan Clark.
You can read more book reviews or buy Great Stories from British History by Geraldine McCaughrean and Richard Brassey at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Great Stories from British History by Geraldine McCaughrean and Richard Brassey at Amazon.com.
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