Skinny Review Week: All Joy and No Fun
William Langewiesche alert.

Skinny Review Week: How They Croaked

Title: How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

What's it all about, briefly? This is a fun, short book (with lots of illustrations) about how a lot of history's most famous people died. The stories here describe the "awful ends of the awfully famous," including Julius Caesar, Elizabeth I, George Washington, Charles Darwin, and many others. This is a book meant for young readers, so the text is simple. I actually got it from my sister, who said her kids loved reading it. She also asked me for suggestions for other such "tweeny" nonfiction reads, which I never got back to her on. (Sorry about that, sis.) For one thing, normally I would have just gone to the shelf of my local library and browsed for her, but that's harder with the two kids; and for another, I have always believed that nonfiction for kids is best found along subject lines more so than author- or writing style-lines. By that I mean there aren't as many big "name" authors of YA or tween nonfiction that I am aware of, and that kids are usually pretty handy at finding nonfiction they want to read based on subjects they are interested in.*

Representative Quote: "On the morning of December 14, 1799, [George] Washington woke up boiling hot and gasping for air. Martha and Tobias Lear, his secretary, immediately sent for the doctor--which was harder than it sounds since they were seventy-five years shy of having a phone and a hundred years short of having a car parked out front. Sending for the doctor meant someone had to hop on a horse and gallop over dirt roads to Alexandria, eight miles away, where Dr. Craik lived." (p. 85.)

The Skinny: A fun read, for kids and adults alike. Always ask what your kids and nieces and nephews are reading--you might find something good for yourself. (Or something helpful for when your library patrons ask for juvenile nonfiction.)

*CRjr is a perfect example of this. Right now he is fascinated with flags, and has a Flags of the World book at home that has kept him occupied for, I'm not kidding, hours. He can't read but we've gone through and said a lot of the country names with him, so now he runs around the house saying "Mali! Guinea! Guinea-Bissau! Liberia!" It's beyond awesome.