105 Ways to Give a Book

Nonfiction Monday: How They Croaked

Booktalking at schools is a time-honored way of pitching summer reading, but only if you have the books that command attention. With a great topic, title, and cover, this one is a booktalker's dream.

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
by Georgia Bragg, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley

Walker Books 2011, reviewed from library copy

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully FamousIt starts with a warning: "If you don't have the guts for gore, do not read this book." It continues with a conversational and cheeky tone, "There are funny crying parts and disgusting stupid parts and hideous cool parts, but it's pretty much one train wreck after another." There are stories about people from the past like Cleopatra, Pocahonatas, Mozart, Dickens, Darwin, and Einstein, along with little fun fact breaks about mummies, scurvy, and bloodletting. Yay! In exploring the ends of historic figures - often in graphic and gruesome detail - bits of actual history and biography are included. Perhaps without the student realizing that learning may be taking place. For instance, to get to Marie Antoinette's losing her head at the guillotine, the reader goes through pages of description of her life and place in the French revolution. The clever illustrations add to the irreverent feel, while adding interest and explanation. You know, in case you wondered what George Washington's wooden teeth might have looked like. While disgusting, horrifying, and absolutely creepy, How They Croaked is completely engrossing - with emphasis on the gross. Available in paperback this month, this is a fantastic, highly appealing book for public and school libraries. Not to be missed!

Nonfiction Monday is hosted at Perogies and Gyoza.

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Ms. Yingling said...

My students do like this one, and it is very informative. I wished it had included F.W. Woolworth, who got septicemia because he disliked dentists, or poor Vachel Lindsay. Never a good idea to drink lye, even if you have failed at selling your poetry door to door.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Just the title alone draws in readers! And I enjoyed not only the researched information, but the humorous tone of the book. And, BTW, this book won the 2012 International Reading Association Award for Young Adult-Nonfiction!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm . . . I don't know. A book that glorifies the perverseness of peoples' deaths? Not very uplifting . . . or respectful. Couldn't they have focused on the individuals' lives instead? Sorry, it's just that seeing this book makes me a little sad.

GatheringBooks said...

I borrowed this book from our library but never got the chance to finish it - it's quite a tome, really. I'm glad to hear that they now have a paperback version.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to let you know about a new resource for grieving children and families!
And Still They Bloom: A Family’s Journey of Loss and Healing
Written by Amy Rovere and Illustrated by Joel Spector
Published by American Cancer Society 2012
$14.95 / 8 X 10 jacketed hardcover
48 pages, four color, 16 full-color illustrations
ISBN-13: 978-1-60443-036-3