Stokes, Jonathan W. The Thrifty Guide to …: A Handbook for Time Travelers. Illus. by David Sossella. Viking, $13.99. Ages 9-14.
This hilarious series makes history palatable in a pretense of being a tour guide produced in the 22nd century beginning in 2163. Each volume is black and white with a predominant color highlighting headlines, drawings, and maps. Boxed biographs are headed, “People to Have Lunch With,” and “Helpful Hints” give practical guidelines showing how the parts of the era function. Detailed footnotes give either additional information or break up the seriousness with humorous bits about the business owner, Finn Greenquill, and his peculiarities.
Verdict: The histories are factual, sometimes debunking the “hero” aspect of past historical figures. Upcoming books are Ancient Greece and Medieval Times.
Ancient Rome. Viking, 2018. 128p. ISBN 978-0-451-47960-0. P8Q5
The slapstick approach of this volume may be intended to smooth over the incessant sensational violence, highlighted in red, from gladiators, barbarian hordes, beheadings, deaths from the volcano at Pompeii, etc. Verdict: Not my favorite in the series.
American Revolution. Viking, 2018. 137p. ISBN 978-0-451-47961-7. P8Q8
Time travelers are invited to dip into the dangerous adventures of the Revolutionary War between the Tea Party of 1773 and the culminating Battle of Yorktown in 1781. In historical information about the nation’s cows, the author describes, for example, the murders of 35 French Canadians under George Washington’s leadership when he was 21 that led to the French and Indian War and later the Seven Years’ War, conflicts that may have led to the Revolutionary War because the British needed tax money to pay for the wars. Interesting trivia include males’ wearing powdered wigs to cover up sores from syphilis. People to have lunch with include the black slave teenage poet Phyllis Wheatley, the black patriot Salem Poor, and Benjamin Franklin. Black/white highlighted with blue.
Verdict: More accessible than Ancient Rome.
January/February 2018 book review by Nel Ward.