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Recently I reviewed another book in this series, The Gorgeous Georgians, which was the first book from the Horrible Histories series I'd read . I was impressed with it, and enjoyed reading through it with my daughter so much, that I decided to go and get some more books in the series . The second book I've read is Rotten Romans.
The Horrible Histories series is a collection of illustrated books written by the wonderful author known as Terry Deary, with illustrations provided by Martin Brown . I did a little research into Terry Deary , and happened across the fact that he's written over 200 books! There are loads of books in this particular series, which aims to teach history in a way more fun and exciting for younger people - by including some of the more unbelievable facts about the era. This particular book focuses on Ancient Rome from 753 b.c right up to 446 a.d , and covers all sorts of areas - Evil Emperors, Roman recipes, Roman folk tales - all sorts of information.
The cover is blue, with a picture of a vicious looking Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni , with her raid hair spilling down over her shoulders wielding her sword at a couple of cowardly looking centurions . Along the top is the Horrible Histories logo, with the title in big chunky writing enclosed in a cream box .
After a brief introduction, which like the first book takes a little time to poke fun and teachers, you're launched into the book with a timeline - nicely presented bite size facts, many illustrated with a small jokey cartoon. There is also a nice little map of England as it would have been back then, with 21 of the leading tribes and their locations clearly mapped out . I found this map a useful reference to come back to at various stages in the book,and it helped me in explaining things to my daughter.
Opening the book, the text is a nice size for young readers (my daughter is six, and can read this with a little assistance from me) although some passages are written in Italics, or as though they were handwriting, which she finds a little harder to read .
There are illustrations on every page, making it far more lively as a book, and also enabling my daughter to interpret new words a little easier. Most illustrations have a small joke, often in the form of a pun included . My daughter is a little too young to understand many of the jokes, but I got a chuckle out of them .
The wording in the book is simple, but not patronising, and although there are a few words that might be trickier for young readers, they are often explained and broken down to make them easier to understand .
Unlike the first book, there is a quiz element to the early chapters of this, that present you with situations faced by the Roman Army, and ask you what decision you think was made in that situation . This was perhaps a little too challenging for my daughter, but the books are aimed at slightly older children . Instead of taking it as a quiz, I read each question then looked up the answer and explained it to her.
I did the Romans at school when I was younger, but I'd forgotten a lot of the information , so reading this book revived my memory of what I'd learned at school, as well as teaching me a lot of new things about this period in history - such as the fact that the Army would keep 2/7ths of your wages, and save them for you. When you retired, assuming you lived long enough to retire, you were given back this lump sum, meaning you could retire in relative comfort .
We actually made together one of the recipes included in the book, Numidian Chicken, which is chicken in a fruity, spicy, honeyed sauce . It was actually pretty nice, although we did steer very clear of trying out the various cures suggested in one part of the book . Now, I'm a very tired person, I have trouble sleeping, but their remedy for tiredness, which involved crushing frogs and shrimp together, is one I prefer to avoid for the time being . I also didn't realise that the game Blind Mans Bluff was around during those times .
Whilst the book was enjoyable, I found it more challenging for my daughter than the first book we read was . Whether this was because I knew less about the period, or because the book was actually more difficult I can't say - however, the books are aimed at kids over 8, so my daughter is a little young for these . With that said, I still recommend picking up a copy , and with books in this series costing £3.99 (cover price) and naturally being cheaper on amazon, they won't break the bank .
A great way to further your childs interest in history .
Follows life for folks in Roman Britain from Nero to Boudicca and includes a look at gory games, rotten recipes, and loads of frightening facts.