Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rumors vs. Reality

The Raucous Royals: Test your Royal Wits: Crack Codes, Solve Mysteries, and Deduce Which Royal Rumors are True

Kids are invited to sleuth through history revealing wild true stories and uncovering false rumors in this 64-page illustrated book.  The "story" is presented first and after turning the page, the "conclusion" True, False or Unconfirmed follows.  Although the illustrations are digital art, they have the textured feel of acrylics.  I was reminded very much of the work of Diane Stanley.  I also liked the yellow antique paper treatment on all the pages, and the faux gilt leather design on the cover.  There's a fair touch of humor, with wacky sidebars and speech bubbles over historical figures with silly comments.  For example, King Henry, peering at Anne of Cleves portrait is saying, "Ahh, yes.  I will marry her.  She is beautiful... I think?"  

My favorite page was the contest between dueling historians each making their case for Peter the Great, "Peter was a monster"  vs. "Peter was a saint" the best device I've seen yet for teaching critical thinking.   I see so many kids who are used to memorizing and spitting things back out for the test, and the format for this book seems perfectly geared for forcing kids to really think about things.  The book ends with a copious bibliography, and there's even an accompanying website for those who want to explore further.  

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