Sunday, 6 September 2009

Children's Atlas of World History by Simon Adams

August 2008, Kingfisher Books
192 pages, Hardcover (paperback released Aug 2009)
Review copy


Ease of reading: 5/5
Level of Information: 5/5
Pencils: 5/5
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥+

As a child, I'd either spend hours leafing through the children's encylopedia on my bedroom floor, or I'd take out a volume, pick a page to read, then put the book back. This Children's Atlas of World History, charting life on Earth from 10,000 BCE until the world we now life in, is one of those books.

The amount of information in such a small volume, compared to the giant tomes I read when I was younger is incredible. There's enough on each continent and civilisation for fuelling a reader's appetite on further reading material.

The book is divided up primarily into four parts;
  • The Ancient World (nothing beats the ingenuity of the ancients)
  • The Medieval World (a lot of spiritual growth here)
  • Exploration and Empire (Columbus! downfall of the Aztecs)
  • The Modern World (self-explanatory)
Within each section there's always a general overview of the time period complete with world map; there are funky illustrations indicating major people/events, which include the page numbers of where to find the information (good if you're picking a topic to study) and a timeline of events on the right hand page. This is then followed with a double-page spread looking at a few aspects of the ancient world. These include photos of places and artefacts from the time period.

Additionally, each section covers every continent on Earth for that time period, using the same method as I explained in the previous paragraph. The maps are perfect because mountains and main rivers are shown, you can see how boundaries between areas changed over time. I like the animals which are dotted about the map. This visual stimulation should aid memory for tests. Additionally photos of places/artefacts are included here too; showing the reader exactly what a certain object looked like.

One area I was a little confused on were the time lines, which have several different coloured lines at the side, marking out the years. I couldn't see a particular pattern to the colour. I possibly would have liked to see a specific colour match a certain region or time period, so that flicking through the book every blue and white time line symbolised Europe. This wasn't the case: blue could be for Europe, America, Africa - and on other pages America would have a different colour.

The other extra piece of information I would have liked put separately, instead of putting it in the start of each chapter, would be to have a 'how to use this book page'. I feel the explanations on the chapter's first page used up precious space which could have been used for more facts about the time period. One page at the front of the book would, in my view, have been preferable. However, perhaps for the target readership this feature reminds them how to use the book, if they don't think to look back to the first page.

If space and finances are constrained, the internet and the library are the best sources for further information on all topics covered here, making the Children's Atlas of World History a perfect history taster for every household.

Simon Adam's website can be found here.

Illustrator Katherine Baxter's website is here.
Illustrator Mark Bergin details can be found here.
Illustrator Kevin Maddison's details can be seen here.

ISBN 978-0753415702
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Live, Love, Laugh, Write! said...

Looks like a great book to have around if you have kids :) And maybe even if you don't!

Nayuleska said...

As someone who is pretty clueless with world history (unless it's about ancient civilisations), it's extremely useful!