Imagine that you have the ability to travel to America, circa 1770. You'll be able to blend in and talk with people who will have no idea that you have traveled back in time. That's the fun premise of Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History, just the kind of book that I love -- one that brings history alive as no textbook can do.
From "The Awful Smells,"
Your nose runs as you approach the people in a room. When a woman smiles at you, you see she's missing several teeth. Her breath is horrid. You can't escape it. Almost everyone in the room has bad breath from rotting teeth. Plus, both men and women smoke white clay pipes. So their breath (and clothes and hair) also smells of strong tobacco. People aren't completely unaware of the smells. They know they have bad breath. Women try to hide it by chewing cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, and honey melted in ashes. Men don't bother. Women mostly wave fans to keep the smell away and to cover their own black smiles.As a traveler from the future, you'll visit a cobbler's shop (also full of stomach-churning smells), a tavern complete with bedbugs and rotting food, a barbershop (where people go to have their rotting teeth ripped from their jaws), and the homes and wardrobes of wealthy, poor and working class Americans.
Colorful inset boxes offer facts about smallpox, bathing habits, and other public health issues of the time. Period illustrations, photographed realia, and other buggy and bloody spot illustrations, add interest and break up the small text.
An introduction, "The Yucky Past," and four chapters, "The Awful Smells," "The Creepy-Crawly Bugs," "The Nasty Germs," and "The Uncomfortable Fashions," are followed by an Author's Note, Glossary, Source Notes, Selected Bibliography, Further Reading, Places to Visit and Index.
The author's note is well worth reading, and finishes with,
I don't think we should feel superior to the people of the past. They knew of nothing better than the conditions in which they lived. Despite all the hardships they faced, they worked hard, raised their children, and made the best of what they had.
A well-done look at our nation's earliest days. How will we be viewed by citizens from the centuries to come?
- At NC Teacher Stuff, Jeff is our first contributor of the day with "Two Creepy Titles from National Geographic." That's Creepy! and Weird but True! should be great kid-pleasers.
- At Randomly Reading, Alex offers "Three Books About Nature," On the Move: Mass Migrations, Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries, and Nature Recycles: How About You? all published by Sylvan Dell.
- Brick by Brick is the nonfiction picture book selection of Jeanne at True Tales and a Cherry on Top this week. It is the story of the construction of the White House, created by many workers, including slaves who endured horrible working conditions.
- Jennie at Biblio File shares Hacking Your Future: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More than Your Peers Ever Will, a manifesto espousing the benefits of self-directed learning as opposed to the college experience. An interesting concept, but one I'm hoping that my son doesn't choose. ;)
- Eggs 1, 2, 3: Who Will the Babies Be? is today's offering from Jen at Perogies and Gyoza. Eggs ... is one of last year's Cybils' finalists and Jen declares it "an adorable book on numbers and eggs for preschoolers." She also reminds us to nominate our favorites for consideration in this year's Cybils voting!
- Over at Booktalking, Anastasia reviews a book that will "help students learn critical thinking skills by examining the different types of questions they can ask as they do research." Be sure to check out Know What to Ask: Forming Great Research Questions.
- At Geo Librarian, Heidi has a brief review of "a fabulous MG/YA nonfiction book about the art of drawing/sculpting dinosaurs." Head over to Geo Librarian to read about Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How do we know what dinosaurs really looked like?
- Cindy, one half of the duo that makes up Bookends, has just added her featured book, Things that Float and Things that Don't, a picture book for young readers about flotation and density.
- Today at Sonderbooks, you'll find a review of Revolutionary Friends: George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. Read this one with Ick! Yuck! Eew! and you'll imagine history with your nose as well as your eyes and ears!
I'll be working all day, and will update the post with your links later in the day.