Saturday, 15 November 2014

Horrible Histories Series: History Has Never Been So Horribly Entertaining

A Review By: Amelia
A truly 'horrible' series!
History can be a tough subject to get kids (or adults for that matter) interested in. Some people just don’t seem to care what the present world is built upon and, as an avid history lover, I’ve always found that distressing! However, it eases my distress that book series like Horrible Histories exist and are doing well!

Horrible Histories is a rather brilliantly designed series of illustrated history books originally published in the United Kingdom by Scholastic. They are designed to get children interested in history by concentrating on the unusual, gory, or unpleasant events in a tongue-in-cheek manner that highly contrasts to the formality of lessons taught in school. The first titles in the series, The Terrible Tudors and The Awesome Egyptians, were published in June 1993. As of 2014, there are more than 60 titles in the series and the books have sold over 25 million copies in over 30 languages.

The author of all the Horrible Histories is Terry Deary. He’s a former actor, theatre director, and drama teacher that began writing when he was 29. His books are popular among children for their disgusting details, gory but accurate historical information, and humorous pictures. The books spawed a cartoon series and earned Deary an Honorary Doctorate of Education from the University of Sunderland and the Blue Peter Award for “best Nonfiction Author of the Century” in the UK.

Each book–and there are over 60 of them–follows a different culture in certain time period. EgyptGreeceRome, the Tudors, the World Wars–there’s a book for nearly any topic in history you can think of. Each book loosely follows a set pattern. There’s an introduction, a brief timeline of the selected time period, miniature essays about things introduced in the timeline, a quiz to test your knowledge, and an epilogue. Deary knows his stuff and fills out the books with a tonne of information in his small essays. He even includes things like plays, jokes, news stories (from the time), and, of course, all the books have many small comics strewn throughout them.

Deary’s Horrible Histories are a brilliant series. The books of Deary’s series have been widely and often imitated, but never duplicated. The tongue-in-cheek humour is really very refreshing, especially if you think back to your dullest history teacher. In these slim books, history becomes interesting no matter how dull you might have found it before! And with over 60 books to choose from, there’s a time period that fits anyone’s fancies.

My final thoughts on Horrible Histories series are that it should be read by kids and adults alike. There’s a bunch of new facts to be discovered and, c’mon, if we’re all going to be honest with each other, when it comes to history, we’d all rather hear about the gory and gross parts more than anything else!

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