Bad Kids: the Worst-Behaved Children in History by Tony Robinson
|Bad Kids: the Worst-Behaved Children in History by Tony Robinson|
|Category: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jason Mark Curley|
|Summary: A gory look through the history of horrible children and terrible punishments.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 96||Date: September 2009|
|Publisher: Macmillan's Children's Books|
I'm starting to wonder about the type of person who would write such a horrible and terrifying book for children; it's as confusing as trying to work out an age category for this book. Bad Kids is a gruesome look through history using the ways children were punished through the ages as a central core. It runs right through history from ancient Iraq, where you could get your fingers chopped off for hitting your parents (they only recently abolished that one) to the modern day and the use of ASBOs.
There are some great stop off points along the way, and the brilliant thing about this book is that the punishments are really a kind of literary carrot to get children reading about things like the persecution of witches and the reformation. It's all quite grizzly and fantastically gory. As it moves into the modern age it deals with subjects like The Boy Scouts, Borstal and even the advent of Rock and Roll.
I had a great time reading this; the writing style is fantastic and everything is so well explained in as much detail as is appropriate for this age range. Yes, the subject matter is often a little macabre, but anything that helps children develop an interest in history has to be worth it. There are fantastic cartoon style illustrations alongside well selected photographs, which help bring this look through history to life, and none of these are at all gory (the horror is in the writing).
I remember my parents taking me to The London Dungeon, years ago – before it got all high tech and was just a load of waxworks depicting executions and a torture through history, and I absolutely loved it, and no matter what I think about the appropriate age range for this book now, I'd have loved it when I was about ten years old.
So I think I'd put this book at ten years old plus, though you might want to be ready for some discussions with more sensitive children about what's inside. I've also found a possibly secondary purpose for this book, to be used by stricter parents: use it as a random punishment selector, Well, Johnny, you didn't tidy your room today so the punishment will be … (flick to a random page) … beheading. Go get me an axe.
If you like this book I'd also recommended The Comic Strip History of the World by Sally Kindberg and Tracey Turner.
Thanks to the publishers for sending me this review copy.
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