Tag Archives: History

The Big Book of Exhibits – Joan-Marie Hargreaves & Marita Bullock. Illustrated by Liz Rowland.

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Hachette

Septemember 2022

Imprint: Lothian Children’s Books

ISBN: 9780734419996

RRP: $24.99

We absolutely know that kiddos love information books and, certainly in my experience, the quirkier the better really. This marvellous book is described as a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ and indeed it does appear to be exactly that in a written and illustrated form. For example: The Disgusting Food Museum (Sweden), Questionable Medical Devices (Minnesota, USA), Madame Tussaud’s, Banksy art, the Poo Machine (our very own MONA in Tasmania) all is grist for the mill in this panopoly. Of course, there are more pedestrian examples such as the Louvre or the Galileo Museum but it is bound to be the more bizarre by which children will be fascinated.

Museums and private collections, the serious, the playful, the wacky and the wonderful – over 50 exhibitions from around the world and drawn from various time periods. The objects span a wide range of topics which are more than relevant to curriculum including history, natural science, STEAM, medicine, inventions and cultures and the extensive teaching notes will be a huge asset to any teacher, whether clasroom, home or library.

I know that it will find an audience in any setting and with Christmas rapidly approaching, it would make a splendid gift for an inquisitive youngster in your circle. I intend to use it in my relief teaching days as dipping in and out will be perfect for those odd moments in a program to segue from one activity to another.

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

Agatha Christie: a Very Elusive Woman – Lucy Worsley

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Hachette Australia

September 2022

ISBN: 9781529303889 | RRP $34.99

If, as I am, you are are a fan of historian Lucy Worsley, either in her role as Chief Curator of Royal Historical Palaces and her numerous TV appearances, or in her other guise as a skilled writer of best-selling history books AND you are also an Agatha Christie devotee, you will be one of the many readers who will eagerly take up this newest of Lucy’s books.

I have read quite a bit about Dame Agatha over the years, though admittedly not for some time, but it seemed to me that this volume was in many ways a complete revelation as it peeled the quite complex layers of the woman and celebrity author.

There are clearly many well-known facts about Christie’s life: her mystery disappearance in 1926, her highly publicised marriage to archaeologist Max Mallowan, her own experience working in a dispensary during the Great war which informed her writing of her first successful mystery novel and her record-breaking book sales and stage plays. However, there is so much more to discover about this truly remarkable woman and with her access to many personal letters and papers, Lucy Worsley has provided us with this depth of detail. In many ways an enigma, there is also an element of understanding to be had as one unravels the significant episodes in her life from her quite privileged childhood which subsequently disintegrated into near poverty, to her embrace of the modern world in the early 20th century including fast cars, surfing, and pyschology. Throughout her increasingly successful and high profile career, Agatha protested that she was simply a very ordinary ‘housewife’ – nothing could be further from the truth. Long before the celebrity mania modern society seems to indiscriminately bestow on people notorious for five minutes (and the plethora social media exposure etc) this was a woman whose face and work was not only known but highly respected. Despite her Victorian/Edwardian start to life, she became a beacon for women who aspired to a working career in the contemporary setting.

I read this at night over about two weeks, and was so completely entranced with it that I didn’t even ‘book cheat’ during that time *grin*!

I can highly recommend it to you, especially those of you with an interest in well-researched biographies and literary history. Definitely a 10/10 for this one!

All of Us [a history of SouthEast Asia] – Jackie French and Virginia Hooker. Illustrated by Mark Wilson

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Harper Collins

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October 2019

ISBN: 9781460750025

ISBN 10: 1460750020

Imprint: HarperCollins – AU

List Price: 29.99 AU

Is it a history book? Poetry? A work of art? Geographical work? Actually it’s pretty much all of these wrapped up in one stunning picture book.

The incomparable Jackie French teams up with Emeritus Professor Virginia Hooker, social historian, to take readers on a journey through history that dates back 200, 000, 000 years ago.

Richly illustrated by Mark Wilson we are treated to many fascinating aspects of our nearest neighbours with whom we are linked by ocean and monsoon. Traders, explorers, monuments, animals, landscapes, faiths and festivals, struggles and successes are all examined in double page spreads which each feature a time-line and a focus topic. Alternate pages also share some verse resonant with figurative language and lyric descriptions.

Timor-Leste, Java, Melaka, Philippines, Macassar, Bangkok and Hanoi are just some of the destinations to be explored each with the most pertinent of significant facts.

This is a book which will not only be a hugely welcome addition to classrooms (given the dearth of information pitched at student level) but thoroughly enjoyed by young readers for its sheer beauty and intriguing information.

It is sumptuous and truly a delight to the eye and mind – non-fiction has rarely looked better!

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

A teaching guide is available here.