Loos Through the Ages; Kitchens Through the Ages
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Loos Through the Ages
Kitchens Through the Ages
'Rooms Through the Ages' is a colourful new series which treats domestic social history for upper primary school with wit and an eye for detail.
Loos Through the Ages cannot miss as a subject: and Richard Wood seizes the opportunity to make us gasp, wince and snigger. He cannot resist disgusting puns. 'Royal Stools' is the heading for a paragraph about Henry VIII's 'close stool' or bedside commode; and, on each page, the fact boxes are presented as 'Chamber Chat', in the shape of a potty, and 'Fancy That' on a loo roll.
Beyond the fun, there is a thoughtful presentation which concentrates on the prescribed National Curriculum periods and includes excellent photographs of artefacts, buildings and historical locations; quotations from historical documents; and reproductions of paintings, cartoons and advertisements for sanitary ware.
There is not so much scope in Kitchens Through the Ages for Wood's (or the editor's) sense of humour; but he writes well, whether he is discussing cookers or water closets, relating his description of the past to his audience's preconceptions, carrying themes thorough from one period to another and always giving the impression that he knows much more than he is able to include.
It is to Wood's credit that you feel you want to know more about subjects that are just touched on. What about the rise of public loos, for instance, or changes in dietary and cooking habits? And he provides good bibliographies to enable you to satisfy that curiosity for yourself. There are also glossaries of culinary and sanitary terms and lists of famous kitchens and loos to visit. But there is a suspicion that the anecdotal approach of the text has meant that some aspects of the subjects, which you might expect to be treated in a series of this kind, like changes in house design, are not covered as well as they might have been.