Monday, September 12, 2011
How They Croaked: The Awful Deaths of the Awfully Famous, by Georgia Bragg; illustrated by Kevin O'Malley (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2011)
Recommended for ages 10-13
Most school-aged kids know who King Tut, George Washington, and Napoleon were, but what they may not know is how they died. How They Croaked delivers the full-on details of how these historic figures and 16 others met their makers in gloriously gory detail.
Along the way, Bragg dispels famous myths - Cleopatra did not meet her doom at the fangs of an asp - and provides insight on how modern medicine may have saved a few of these famous lives. George Washington, for instance, could have survived if only he had access to antibiotics.
Bragg provides morality in her profiles. We learn that Pocahontas was exploited from the minute she saved Captain John Smith from the axe, and that Robert Carter, the "explorer" who discovered King Tut's tomb, wasn't much more than a grave robber on a grander scale. We also learn some amusing details along the way, including famous last words, what cupping was all about, and some gross information about Marie Antoinette's three-foot hairdo.
Kevin O'Malley, writer and illustrator of children's books such as Animal Crackers Fly the Coop! and Mount Olympus Basketball, gives the reader his macabre best while still keeping it on a level that younger readers won't shy away from, including a a distended Henry VIII and a shrieking Julius Caesar.
For reluctant readers and kids (or grownups!) who just want a fun read that makes you squeal with squeamish delight, How They Croaked is a perfect addition to your history library.