History is sometimes seen as unfashionable; difficult for the young, especially when it involves dates. Certainly there are favourite periods – Romans, Vikings and of course the Tudors – but they seem to exist in limbo and are usually studied non chronologically. How can the sweep of history be shown? Surely it is a brave author to attempt this? Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom have taken the challenge.
Aimed at top KS1 and KS2 pupils this is a brisk canter through the history of Britain to the present day. We meet Stone Age hunters, Saxons, Tudors, Hanoverians and the new Elizabethans (us). We learn about the feudal system and the Industrial Revolution. Since each subject or period is given one double spread, inevitably the information is succinct and carefully chosen. However, a particularly welcome feature is the chronological strip at the foot of each page, marching through the book from earliest period to today. This anchors each subject firmly into time. Brita Granstrom’s lively illustrations filling every space left by the text and incorporating speech bubbles addressing the reader directly, ensure a friendly approach, while an index allows targeted access. A couple of small quibbles – sometimes the text is in an uncomfortably small font and it would have been nice to have been directed to further reading – perhaps Britannia (McCaughrean) – adding colour to an already colourful presentation. But Manning and Granstrom want to make history attractive and accessible for young readers and in this they have succeeded once again.