Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tony Robinson's Weird World of Wonders (Macmillan Children's Books)

Since Charlotte started school, she's started to develop more of an interest in history and with a lot of the children's fiction picture books we look at, history plays a part.

Delving into dusty old encyclopaedias, or trying to find non-fiction history books that strike a good balance between offering up the sort of interesting facts and snippets of information children love to store inside their noggins, but making the subject matter vibrant and 'alive' enough to ensure they stay engaged is a tricky balancing act.

We've looked at a few of the Terry Deary "Horrible History" books (we borrowed them from the library, just to be subversive!) and it's easy to see how they've become so popular and talked about (in all honesty though, the TV treatment is far better than the books and I truly believe the books wouldn't have made a dent in anyone's subconscious without the truly excellent CBBC series).

So it's great to be able to look at an alternative range of children's history books, fronted by a TV personality who has become synonymous with history and archaeology (as well as being a fairly accomplished turnip collector and teller of fascinating children's tales from Fat Tulip's Garden!)

Tony Robinson's Weird World of Wonders may look a little bit too close to Terry Deary's Horrible History range for comfort, but dipping in the differences are evident right from the off. Rather than an over reliance on flatulence, poo, puking, burps, gross food and gross-out behaviour, the "Weird World of Wonders" range breaks down different historical civilisations into easily digestible topic areas but always with the emphasis on fun. The 'Curiosity Crew' appear throughout the books, curiously delving into all aspects of history and mapping out the past.

We took a look at the "Greeks" and "British" books in the range, written in conjunction with talented historical researchers (Tony's own grown-up version of 'The Curiosity Crew'), and humorously illustrated by the very talented Del Thorpe.

The books are absolutely jam packed with content and Tony is a good 'fit' for these. We often sit down on a hectic sunday to watch 'Time Team' and I'm sure a lot of kids do the same with their parents.

Charlotte's best bit: She's going to be a cartographer when she grows up, she has a weird fascination with maps (thankfully there are loads in this range!)

Daddy's favourite bit: Great pocket-sized books absolutely chock full of content. Even though these are slightly 'old' for Charlotte, they're great to go through with her.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Macmillan Children's Books)