For the past two decades primary schoolchildren have been fed a piecemeal diet of history, lurching from Romans to Tudors, Vikings to Victorians with no linking narrative to explain how events unfolded and shaped our nation. Things don’t much improve in secondary schools where history is marginalised by the demands of more utilitarian subjects and often abandoned altogether after the age of 14. The appointment of Simon Schama as an advisor on the teaching of history in schools is a promising sign of change to come, but in the meantime three cheers for Patrick Dillon and Walker Books for this timely volume. After a brief introduction on ‘the two islands on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean’ with their divided tribes and expertise in metalwork, the story begins in 1066 with the invasion of the Normans. The text is in narrative form, untroubled by dates and statistics, characters breaking into conversation. Chapters cover all the important events in our history from the Magna Carta and Wars of the Roses to the Spanish Armada, the Execution of Charles I, the Abolition of Slavery, the Industrial Revolution and the Blitz, but there is room here too for inventions and discoveries, for Chaucer, Shakespeare, Byron and The Beatles. What binds it together is the quality of the storytelling. There is pace and excitement in the unfolding of a tale, and Dillon is as good at depicting character, whether the transformation of the handsome Prince Henry into the suspicious and bloated King Henry VIII or the Iron Duke, cheeks wet with tears at the sight of the battlefield in the aftermath of Waterloo, as he is at capturing how ordinary people were affected by events. The illustrations by P J Lynch that open each section perfectly match the narrative aspect of the text with their scene setting and portraits of kings, queens, politicians, writers and artists. Timelines are included throughout to pinpoint events and maps dropped in where necessary. The gold-blocked jacket, grown-up binding with proper head and tail bands and bookmark make it the kind of book you would happily choose as a special gift, not just for classroom back-up.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png 0 0 Angie Hill http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Angie Hill2011-05-01 00:00:392022-02-08 18:25:34The Story of Britain
Illustrator: P J Lynch