CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 8. . . .October 23, 2009
Every Saturday morning, 10-year-old Digby Platt and his older sister, Hannah, visit Knicknack Market to check out the interesting and unique “antiques” that Mr. Rummage offers for sale at his stall. Employing a story-within-a-story format, each of the titles in this 14-volume “Stories of Great People” series focuses on an object used by a famous person in history. The vendors of Knicknack Market contribute to the story’s coming alive. For example, Mr. Rummage is only too happy to share facts about the object or its famous owner, while Chrissy, the owner of a vintage clothing stall, lends the children some garments and accessories so that they can act out parts of the story.
Each of the books has 15 or 16 chapters and begins with the same introduction to the characters and the market. In most cases, there is a page which contains the dialogue between the children and Mr. Rummage, and this page is followed by a page or two of the actual biographical information about the featured person. These two alternating “stories”, which continue throughout the book, are distinguished, not only by a change in font style and background, but also by a different style of illustration (the illustrations on the children’s pages are coloured cartoon-like line drawings, whereas the illustrations on the biographical pages consist of drawings, photographs and paintings). Sadly, the books lack maps and timelines, and there is often need for some clarification or more detail in the text. On the positive side, the stories do portray the lives and times of the famous people quite accurately, even if some of the information provided exposes their faults, and the story-within-a-story concept works well in that it causes readers to pause and reflect on some aspect of the text. A table of contents, a glossary and an index are included.
Galileo’s Telescope traces the life of mathematician, physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei who was born in Pisa, Italy, in 1564. Throughout his life, Galileo was a risk-taker who was eventually accused of heresy and imprisoned for his writing about the Bible’s being open to interpretation and his belief, solidified by his development of the refracting telescope, that Copernicus was right, that the Earth did, in fact, revolve around the sun. In 1822, almost 200 years after his death, the Church finally lifted the ban on his book, Dialogues, and in 1993 the Catholic Church formally cleared him of any wrongdoing. The main message of this book is that humans must adapt to change, particularly when scientific data refute earlier discoveries.
Julius Caesar’s Sandals features the life and times of a powerful and brave military leader, orator and politician and showcases the many battles he waged - and usually won - throughout Europe. Also discussed in this title are Caesar’s lasting contributions to Rome, some of which include massive building projects, important changes to laws and tax reform.
Though Mozart only lived 35 years, in his short lifetime he accomplished a great deal, and his symphonies and operas are still enjoyed today. Mozart’s Wig chronicles the life of this child prodigy who began to play the clavier at age three and gave concerts for royal families in Vienna, London and Paris at the tender age of seven, along with his musically gifted sister. Besides the musical aspect of Mozart’s life, the book discusses his involvement in a secret society known as the Freemasons and life in a court society “where intrigue and suspicion were everywhere” which led Mozart to believe that he was being poisoned by a rival.
The story of Queen Victoria’s Diamond begins when Pixie, from the New Age tent at the Knicknack Market, shows the children a crystal that is believed to have once been a part of the huge Koh-i-noor diamond that was presented to Queen Victoria. The longest reigning British monarch, Victoria became Queen of England at the age of 18. Her 63-year reign was known as the Victorian Age, a time of contrasts in that Victoria and her husband, Albert, promoted museums, exhibitions, zoos and exploration of foreign lands, yet England had its share of problems such as crime, child labour, slums and deplorable conditions in factories and schools. This title enables readers to glimpse another, more “human” side of the queen, quite different from the dour-faced person with whom they are familiar. Victoria’s many contributions and achievements are highlighted.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.