Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Stories from Herodotus by Lorna Oakes (Non-Fiction, 9/10E)

February 2016, Claret Press, 70 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Book Summary
 Herodotus wrote the first history book in the world. That is why he is sometimes called the ‘Father of History’. He lived about 2,500 years ago in the fifth century BC. He was born at a place called Halicarnassus in Asia Minor. The modern names for these places are Bodrum in Turkey. 

Herodotus was a keen traveller who went all over the ancient world and was interested in everything he saw and heard. When he came back from his travels he went to Athens in Greece and gave lectures about the places he had visited. Finally he decided to write a book about them. 

In the later part of his life he went to Italy where he did more work on his book and finally died there in 425 BC. King Leonidas of Sparta and the Battle of Thermopylae, made famous by the blockbuster movie 300, began with Herodotus' stories. Retold to be accessible for children, these stories will delight readers of all ages. This book is appropriate to support the curriculum of Key Stage 3.

Nayu's thoughts
Children are very lucky to have Lorna's retelling of a few of Herodotus's tales! My degree was in ancient history, so reading the tales took me back to many happy memories at uni. I wish I had this during my degree because it explains some complicated tales clearly, which hopefully encourage the reader to investigate the stories for themselves. 

Lorna's narration is engaging and kept me wanting to know what happened next, even though in the depths of my memory I know what happened in the stories. There is lots of selfishness, betrayal, oracles, and much more for readers to enjoy. Personally I'd have preferred a brighter colour scheme and a few more illustrations, but the present ones fit the feel of the tales. I feel there is a lot of scope for both individual readers and achers to discuss whether they would have taken the same course of action as the characters, whether there was a right decision to be made, and just what the ancient world was like for the wise historian who I spent a year getting to know him well. 

I hope this brings about a thirst for the ancient world which started in my childhood then got a bit buried until my teenage years. It's so very cool that Lorna works at the British Musuem - the thoght of being surrounded by so many artefacts (including pot fragments which make me crazy happy) has me be a little bit fangirly! 

Suggested read
More ancient history is covered in this fact filled gem of a read Cool Mythology by Malcolm Croft (Non-fiction, Children's, 9/10E, short 'n' sweet review) 

Another great non-fiction read for younger readers and those like me who like things simplified is DK My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things by Dorling Kindersley (Children's, Non-Fiction, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review) 

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