The Story of Britain by Patrick Dillon and P J Lynch
|The Story of Britain by Patrick Dillon and P J Lynch|
|Category: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: A wonderful introduction to British history from 1066 onwards which will enchant younger readers but also offer older ones the chance to refresh their memories.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: October 2010|
|Publisher: Walker Books|
Author Patrick Dillon has put together a clear, well-written and beautifully concise story of Britain, summing up the history of Britain and Ireland in a little over 320 pages. Significant events, ranging from the Norman Conquest to the South Sea Bubble, and groups of people ranging from highwaymen to the Romantic poets, are each dealt with in between 1 and 3 pages written in Dillon's chatty, easy to read style. There are also maps, including those of the D-Day landings and the Civil War battles, a timeline for each major period (Middle Ages, Tudors, Stuarts, Georgians, Victorians and Twentieth Century) and some gorgeous illustrations by former Kate Greenaway winner PJ Lynch.
From the moment you open the book, it stands out as one that has been put together lovingly and with children's short attention spans firmly in mind. It's written very much as a story rather than a history – which certainly isn't to say there are any inaccuracies as far as I can see, just that Dillon describes how he thinks various people would have felt at different times, and this works really well as it makes you feel connected to them.
As you'd expect, all the major events and people that children are likely to already know about are covered here, but there's also room for less common topics, some of which I knew little about before reading this book –including The Scottish Enlightenment, Irishman Daniel O'Connell's campaign for votes, and Edward I's Expulsion of the Jews.
Rather than being an in-depth book, this is clearly designed to be an introduction to a huge range of topics without overwhelming young readers with too much information. From that point of view, it succeeds perfectly as it's a book which could be read by confident readers but the chapters are short enough, and written in such an engaging style, that some of them could also be nice alternatives for children who were growing out of 'normal' bedtime stories whose parents wanted to get them to take an interest in history. It's also one that can be dipped into at will if you want to refresh your own memory of a particular topic or time period – my father, who's always enjoyed reading about history, has read parts of it and been very impressed.
Very high recommendation. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: Children who are hooked on history by this book and want to find out more about what happened beyond these shores will love The Comic Strip History of the World by Sally Kindberg and Tracey Turner. For another one which will have them hooked – although possibly quivering! - Bad Kids: the Worst-Behaved Children in History by Tony Robinson is an excellent, if slightly macabre, look at horrible children and terrible punishments.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Story of Britain by Patrick Dillon and P J Lynch at Amazon.com.
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