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Monday, 17 June 2013

Review: Horribly Huge Book of Terrible Tudors (Horrible Histories)

The Tudors were a family who ruled England from 1485 to 1603 – five rulers (including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I) over 118 years who significantly influenced England and Great Britain.

While dry historical facts and figures such as this might interest (some) adults, most children will quickly lose interest. That’s where Horrible Histories comes in – sharing all the interesting, gory, quirky, unusual and unbelievable facts from history to engage children in learning about the past. The Horribly Huge Book of Terrible Tudors is a combination of two books, Terrible Tudors (published 1993) and Terrifying Tudors (published 1998), guaranteed to convince children that learning about history is anything but boring.

Readers are entertained with information about Tudor food, medicines, education, superstitions and beliefs, clothing, occupations and entertainments. Of course, there are also many stories about the political dramas of the time, with numerous tales of backstabbing, kidnapping, poisoning, manipulation and betrayal.

The Tudor royals, particularly Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, are probably some of the more recognisable historical royal figures for modern children. The intrigue and conflict between Elizabeth I and Mary I is filled with the kind of drama sure to keep kids turning pages and the bizarre Tudor practices with medicines, education, food and everyday living will have kids laughing with the absurdity of it all.

While there is a significant amount of text to read, this is all written in a very entertaining and approachable style with funny illustrations by Martin Brown. In addition to the general information, authors Terry Deary and Neil Tonge also offer readers fact boxes, quizzes, newspaper-style reports and suggestions for games and activities. The book also includes two pages of Horrible Histories Tudor-related stickers.

It is 20 years since the first Horrible Histories book was published. The series now extends to more than 100 different titles, a Horrible Histories website, a popular television program and live stage performances. The books include standard novel-sized books written for children aged 9+, larger sized compilation books (such as The Horribly Huge Book of Terrible Tudors), themed series’ such as the Horribly Famous books, activity books, annuals and a new range of simplified Junior Horrible History titles written for readers aged 7 – 10.

We love Horrible Histories at our house. The kids and I enjoy the books and the television program and we’re hoping to see the stage performance. It is great to have history made so accessible and interesting for younger readers and I love that my children regale me with facts and information they have learned from the books. It is wonderful to see children fascinated by the stories of the past.

Title: The Horribly Huge Book of Terrible Tudors (Horrible Histories)
Author: Terry Deary and Neil Tonge
Illustrator: Martin Brown
Publisher: Scholastic, $29.99 RRP
Publication Date: 2009
Format: Soft Cover
ISBN: 9781407110905
For ages: 8+
Type: Junior Non-Fiction

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