________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 34 . . . . May 4, 2012


Seeing Red: The True Story of Blood.

Tanya Lloyd Kyi. Illustrated by Steve Rolston.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2012.
121 pp., pbk. & hc., $14.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.)
ISBN 978-1-55451-384-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-385-7 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Blood-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Kay Weisman.

**½ /4



In the early 1600s, a Hungarian countess named Elizabeth Bathory was known for her interest in the occult. According to local lore, she once beat a young servant so badly that the poor girl's blood splashed onto the countess's skin. Later, she grew convinced that the area of skin where the blood had touched looked younger than the skin on the rest of her body.

Countess Bathory began bathing regularly in blood-a habit that led to the disappearance of so many young girls that the king of Hungary sent investigators. Eventually convicted of 80 murders, the countess was imprisoned in her castle for the remainder of her life.

Kyi, the author of numerous informational titles, including 50 Burning Questions (2010), here introduces middle grade readers to this intriguing but often misunderstood bodily fluid. In chatty, sometimes lurid prose, she describes attitudes toward blood throughout the ages, including its importance in religion, culture, history, medicine, forensics, and literature. Each chapter contains a major narrative thread (foods, literature, rituals) broken into numerous shorter sections. Frequent illustrations (black and white, accented in red), sidebars, and cartoons further break up the text and add related information. A comics segment (featuring Harker, a Goth styled youth) spans the entire book with a running narrative parallelling that of the main text. Harker's personal notes, included at the ends of the chapters, pose questions suitable for discussion.

      Kyi's matter of fact, macabre style is very effective in drawing readers (especially reluctant ones) to her text, and those who stick it out to the end will learn an inordinate amount about a wide range of topics: bloodletting, religious sacrifice, coming of age rituals, blood recipes, blood typing, transfusions, hemophilia, and forensic blood stain spattering. However, the sensational tone of the text and artwork (the excerpt above is typical) will preclude some readers (and teachers) from appreciating its strengths. Appended with suggestions for further reading and a list of suggested sources, Seeing Red will have great appeal for browsers and may be useful for report writers who are willing to spend the time extracting facts from the text. Those desiring a more conventional approach to this topic may prefer Ruth Bjorklund's Circulatory System (Marshall Cavendish, 2008).

Recommended with reservations.

Kay Weisman is a Master of Arts in Children's Literature candidate at the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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