Thursday, 24 April 2014

You Wouldn't Want to be a Roman Gladiator by John Malam, David Salariya and David Antram (Salariya / Franklin Watts)

You Wouldn't Want to Be a Roman Gladiator

Written by John Malam and David Salariya
Illustrated by David Antram

Published by Salariya / Franklin Watts

History buffs rejoice! We're taking another look at the excellent "You Wouldn't Want to Be" series, this time delving back into Ancient Roman history for a closer look at Gladiators.

No, not the lycra-clad pommel-wielding TV stars, but the burly men and women who provided entertainment for the Empire, risking life and limb in the arena.

The book is humorously illustrated throughout, in a similar vein to the ever-popular "Horrible Histories" range but I actually prefer Salariya's approach, which retains the humour (and some of the gross bits) but doesn't try to be too clever for its own good, sticking to a formula of mixing fascinating facts with brilliant double-page illustrative spreads to really engage kids and put them right at the heart of the action.

We learn how Gladiators were mostly captured slaves (or in some cases, criminals) who were trained under harsh regimes, with a pretty terrible diet (Porridge with ash for pudding anyone?)

We also learn a rather fascinating fact I hadn't actually seen reproduced anywhere else. There were female gladiators, a prospect that filled Charlotte with glee at the thought of donning a helmet and brandishing a trident in mortal combat. Perhaps that'll be something for the next school history day.

If you're unfamiliar with the Salariya history range, check out our previous article neatly rounding up a few more of these fascinating titles.

Charlotte's best bit: The thought of being the world's first 6 year old female gladiator! (Someone hide the saucepans in case she pinches one for use as a helmet!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: A fascinating glimpse of roman life, literally at the sharp end of providing entertainment for the roman masses!