As we enter the time of projects galore, children are often looking for ways to express their ideas and understanding in unique and interesting ways. The review that follows is from the National Reading Campaign review program for children's books. It highlights a book that demonstrates many ways of expressing information in fun and engaging ways. Some of the formats are very accessible, and could easily be created in the projects assigned to your children. Read the review below (reprinted with permission) and let me know what you think!
It’s a Feudal, Feudal World: A Different Medieval History Written by Stephen Shapiro Illustrated by Ross Kinnaird Annick Press 48 pp September, 2013 Ages 9 to 12
Take a highly amusing and informative romp through the Middle Ages with Stephen Shapiro and Ross Kinnaird. Covering the period from 500 CE to 1500 CE, this author and illustrator team gives us infographics of all sorts (pie charts, diagrams, timelines and more) along with informative text and entertaining cartoons.
Infographic books are hard to do well but, when successfully executed, are excellent tools for allowing readers to access the information through a variety of routes. Shapiro and Kinnaird make sure we know that the Middle Ages was much more than knights and castles. In accessible, inventive and engaging ways, they cover technology, travel, religion, social structure, childhood, farming, trading, wars and disease. For instance, the Notre Dame de Reims cathedral and the Great Mosque of Cordoba are compared for height and area using things young readers will relate to, like giraffes and footballs fields. European Marco Polo’s trip to China and Chinese monk Rabban Bar Sauma’s expedition to Europe are laid out like contrasting board games. Shapiro and Kinnaird throw in interesting trivia as well, like the elephant sent from Iraq in 802 to the emperor Charlemagne or weird bits of marginalia in medieval manuscripts.
Whether you want to compare the length of school buses and Viking longboats (two buses equals one longboat), find out who was most likely to die from the Black Death, or even make sense of the nine Crusades, Shapiro and Kinnaird will inform and entertain. It’s a Feudal, Feudal World is a great book for expanding young readers’ understanding of this period, while also engaging them in ways that will help them absorb and remember the information. Bravo.
Gillian O’Reilly is the editor of Canadian Children’s Book News and a children’s book author.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.