Some Moms recently asked me some questions about these books after I sent out an e-mail, sharing that the books (which aren't easy to find here in the U.S.) could be purchased for less at the Book Depository with their extra 10% discount offer going on till mid-May. This was my reply:
As one reviewer said, "They offer realism cloaked hilariously in jokes." B ecause they're engaging, educational and funny, I
thought they were worth reading aloud selectively to Muddee.
ecause they're engaging, educational and funny, I thought they were worth reading aloud selectively to Muddee.
How often do we come across something that teaches and
How often do we come across something that teaches and makes us laugh?
Just to be clear, though -- I do not condone violence, nor do I think children should be exposed to graphic elements too early. The books actually emphasize that we all run the dangers of being like our wicked past, and should learn from our histories to be better people. The "Villains' Handbook," for example, lists useful villain tips, and one of them is -- why you really don't want to be one.
Anyway, the books serve as fun supplementals for "informal" reading rather than primary History texts. It's great trivia for those who already have a basic knowledge of the historical period. Some parents prefer to have their kids read the books AFTER they understand the basics of the era. But since they're f
to use them for introducing
children to history. un, quick
un, quick reads,
Also, Nancy Silverrod of the
rom another reviewer: "Are the books chock-full of
historical facts guaranteed to allow someone to walk away, thinking they know
everything about the Middle Ages, Greece, Rome, France, or any of Deary's other
topics? No, of course not. Are the books a wonderfully entertaining (and
illustrated!) way of addressing what can admittedly be a bit of a dry topic? Of
course! ... And the better you know the original, the more funny and
entertaining the condensed versions
BTW, don't let the juvenile presentation of the book deter you from reading it either. It's really a fun read for teens and adults alike. Our whole family enjoys it (including my dear husband)! In fact, when a few "Horrible Histories" CDs, that I had ordered, arrived; we played them in the car (forwarding the gory parts, of course), and my husband thought it was hysterical.
Because they're written at the middle school level, many people recommend them for 9-15 year olds. But in my opinion, the content is too mature for middle schoolers and younger kids. One
8 year-old boy found the jokes and facts a little intense / scary. Wars, battles, hygiene practices, etc., are all discussed. So for independent reading, they're definitely for older kids / teens. They're not for sensitive children -- unless you read the books aloud to them and skip all the gore, which as I've said, has worked well for us.
"The Stormin' Normans," for example, has some passive-aggressive comments about Christianity. Deary, the author, is very candid about the atrocities the Church committed when he's writing history. Funny thing, though, is that he uses the notations B.C. and A.D., instead of B.C.E. and C.E. for his dates.
We only have 2 books from this series -- Awesome Arithmetricks, and I can't remember the name of the other one .... It's exactly what it says on the front cover -- "maths with the laughs added in." Nice thing about it (at least, with THIS book) is that it's less gory than Horrible Histories, Horrible Geography and Horrible Science because it just goes about explaining essential arithmetic in a lively way, with cartoon illustrations and all.