Bathrooms Through the Ages; Bedrooms Through the Ages
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This issue’s cover is from Edward Ardizzone’s Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain. Brian Alderson discusses this classic picture book, now reissued in a beautiful new edition by Scholastic in ‘Classics in Short’. Thanks to Scholastic Children’s Books for their help in producing this January cover.
Taking a linear approach, these books trace changes in bedrooms and in bathing habits respectively from several thousand years BC to modern times. Each double spread features one era. The format is magaziney in style – three or four ‘articles’ on each spread, under an alliterative or punning headline, give nuggets of information supported by illustrations reproduced from paintings of the time or photographs of relevant objects. The pages are further broken up by ‘fancy that’ and quote sections which, like the paintings, introduce the idea of using original sources to gain historical insight. The texts have a glossary, a chronology, ideas for further reading and an index.
At first sight I was put off by the rather messy design, but am on the whole won over. Minor irritations – not full enough credits for the pictures, lack of illustration for one or two fascinating items, and a failure to be convinced that the likely Key Stage II audience will understand the headline jokes – are outweighed by the sheer quality of the information, and the clarity with which it is given.