Monday, June 06, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: How They Croaked

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully FamousHow They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous Georgia Bragg illustrated by Kevin O'Malley

Back in March, I was driving to work on a Saturday morning and listening to Weekend Edition. I love Weekend Edition because, around 8:50, they often talk about kidlit and it's the last story I hear before getting out of the car.

On that fateful day, they were talking with Georgia Bragg about her book about the super-gross ways that super-famous people died. I had the book talk written before the interview was done. Then, I got to work and was talking with a coworker who said "I just heard something on the radio about a book that sounds really great..."

And, really great it is! It took me FOREVER to read though, because it turns out, I do A LOT of my reading while I'm eating. This is not a book to read while eating. It's pretty disgusting. The descriptions of Marie Curie's body before she died "Her blackened fingertips were cracked and oozing, and she incessantly rubbed them together." That's pretty tame. Nothing like the grossness of Washington's mouth, Henry VIII exploding in his coffin, or Einstein's autopsy.

After every chapter, there are extra bits of related information. So, after talking about Washington's death, there extra information includes a list of bloodletting do's (select the largest vein at the bend of the arm) and don'ts (soak the patient in his own blood. Don't soak the sheets, either), Presidential Death Facts, Faces on American Money, and some selections from Washington's 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversations.

Plus, lots of fun facts-- we're not really sure what Edgar Allen Poe died of, but current thinking is rabies.Charles Dickens was a jerk. James Garfield couldn't keep food down, so they gave him enemas of egg, beef extract, and whiskey.

It's history made fun and exciting. (Plus source notes!) The gross-out factor makes it an easy sell to reluctant readers (most likely boys) but there's enough science, history, music, arts, and extras to make it appeal to most kids. And, if you can get past the blatant gross-out factor, adults will enjoy it, too.

Today's Nonfiction Monday round-up is over at Chapter Book of the Day. Be sure to check it out!

Book Provided by... my local library

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3 comments:

Anastasia Suen said...

Thanks for participating in Nonfiction Monday this week!
:-) Anastasia

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

Hi! So good to have chanced upon your site thru the round-up post for Nonfiction Monday. I love history stories with a twist - my daughter and I are currently going over Terry Deary's Horrible Histories and we are enjoying it! This one is definitely something we should add to the list. The gruesomeness sounds like something a nine year old would probably enjoy and celebrate.

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

Hi, I just found the book in our community library! Thanks again for the recommendation. =)