Review Blog

Jan 11 2013

Hard nuts of history by Tracey Turner

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Ill. by Jane Lennan. A and C Black, 2012. ISBN 9781408171882.
(Age: 9-12) Non fiction, Biography. Humour. Subtitled Who's who in hard nut history, this attractively presented book outlines potted histories of many famous and not so famous gutsy people, starting with Blackbeard, and then trawling through the lives of such people as Nelson, Boudica, Wu Zetian, Charlemagne, Attila the Hun, Abraham Lincoln, and Scott of the Antarctic, along with a smattering of women, Gracie O'Malley, Cleopatra and Mary Kingsley. A few nods to non British people are included, as are a few indigenous people, like Sitting Bull.
Each is given an outline of their life and times, with a ranking about their toughness. Often a double page offers the person's biography with more information about his times. For example, Nelson's double page is followed by information about the British Navy, while the pages about Ulysses S. Grant are followed by two pages about the American Civil War.
The book relates to a website which can be accessed via the Bloomsbury site (see page 7) which links to cards for downloading to make a game of the book and its contents. At the end of the book can be found a questionnaire asking how hard a nut you are, and a timeline of the hard nuts in the book, with an excellent glossary and comprehensive index. All designed to get kids involved in learning about history through the people who have some notoriety, the book makes history and its fact finding element fun and involving, and uses the internet to further engage the modern reader.
Fran Knight

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