- Posted by Johanna on March 21, 2012 at 8:32 am
- Category: Books and Prose
I was recently introduced to several titles from Annick Press, a Canadian publisher of books, often illustrated, for kids. They struck me because I noticed them putting out non-fiction works on odd topics, ones that I was interested in learning more about. These books were all good reads, with plenty of unusual information in attractive presentations that kept me involved. Libraries will likely find them quite popular among teen readers. (The publisher provided digital review copies.)
Seeing Red: The True Story of Blood
written by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
illustrated by Steve Rolston
What a great idea for an informative kids’ book! Children are fascinated by the weird things their bodies do; plus, it’s got a tie-in with the rise of vampires in popular culture.
Each chapter opens with a page of comic art by the talented Steve Rolston before the text begins. He’s following a boy named Harker through history, then into a vampire family. The prose is broken up by headings and fun facts and call-outs and spot illustrations, to keep things visually interesting. There’s never just a plain page of text.
Topics include what was known about blood throughout history; blood use in different cultures and rituals; initiation ceremonies and rites around menstruation; food made with blood and myths about drinking blood; heredity, clans, royal families, and genetics; blood types and medical discoveries; plus criminal investigations and forensics. There’s a bibliography and an index, too.
There’s a lot of intriguing information here, and I appreciated how balanced the author’s approach was to different cultures and belief systems. Each chapter also ends with some thought questions about what the reader has learned, such as “Is it ok to sacrifice animals for religious reasons? How is that different from killing for meat or hunting for sport?”
The World in Your Lunch Box: The Wacky History and Weird Science of Everyday Foods
written by Claire Eamer
illustrated by Sa Boothroyd
Using the loose arrangement of a week of lunches, Eamer provides “exciting history, amazing science, and some very strange stories” about foodstuffs. The items covered include ham, various breads, tomatoes, macaroni, cheese, grapes and other fruits, hot dogs, ice cream, eggs, mayonnaise and other sauces and spices, chicken, potatoes, and pizza. There are facts and fun around how these items developed into the form we know them now.
The pages are designed around the cartoony illustrations, making it a pleasure to read, with convenient tags labeled “science” or “history” to show which part of the story we’re reading. It’s a great book to make kids more conscious of what they’re eating, with all kinds of wide-ranging information.
50 Underwear Questions: A Bare-All History
written by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
illustrated by Ross Kinnaird
It seems like it will be naughty, but it’s really awesome in how much our underpinnings reveal about culture, society, and history, and as pointed out in the introduction, “symbolizing how people view their bodies and the bodies of others.” I was watching Mad Men recently, and one of the DVD extras points out how differently the women walk and stand when they’re wearing period girdles and crinolines, because those garments don’t allow certain kinds of movement and force you to stand up straight. They look differently as a result.
It’s the kind of thing you wonder about (along with what people did about bathroom-related issues) when reading history, and now, questions I’ve had for years are answered with sections on “ancient undies” (mostly loincloths), the development of body modesty and covering up, underwear as a substitute for bathing (ewww), layers as a way to shape the body (including corsets, panniers, and petticoats), the development of the union suit, the creation of the bra, and the many inventions of the modern era, from Jockey shorts through panties and jock straps.
The design makes the pages looks like garments on a clothesline, with fun facts called out as laundry tags. (Clean underwear is important!)