50 Underwear Questions: A Bare-All History

50 Underwear Questions: A Bare-All History

4.0 1
by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Ross Kinnaird

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Most of us take our underwear for granted, but throughout history our undies have revealed a lot about who we are (king or peasant), how we work (in fields or factories) or the shapes we value (manly calves or tiny waists). The third book in Annick’s 50 Questions series tackles questions such as “What’s that smell?” (Medieval Europeans


Most of us take our underwear for granted, but throughout history our undies have revealed a lot about who we are (king or peasant), how we work (in fields or factories) or the shapes we value (manly calves or tiny waists). The third book in Annick’s 50 Questions series tackles questions such as “What’s that smell?” (Medieval Europeans thought bathing made you sick) and “Did boxers arrive in the Nick of time?” (When blue jean model Nick Kamen stepped out of his denims to reveal his boxers, sales of the underwear soared.) Underwear has played a role in ancient crusades, city sieges and even modern economic predictions. Obviously, it’s time to uncover the facts about everything from loincloths and T-shirts to bloomers and lingerie. Young readers will laugh their pants off at the accompanying cartoons and get the bare, but fascinating, facts about the history of our unmentionables.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Snappy writing gives this history some "briefs" appeal, but it's too scantily clad in specifics. "We all own it. We all wear it. We all wash it. (At least, I hope we do!)" Lloyd Kyi follows up 50 Burning Questions: A Sizzling History of Fire (2010) with a like number of posers on styles and changing fashions of undies worldwide and through history--though her view of the topic is broad enough to include mentions of loincloths, chain mail and other items more often worn as outerwear. She slips from the goatskin garment worn by the prehistoric "Iceman" and the mawashi that Japanese sumo wrestlers sport to contemporary undershorts with pockets for cellphones and the "union suit gone cyber" that astronauts wear while spacewalking. As colorful as her general observations and terse anecdotes are, though, there isn't much substance or system to her study--readers curious about the etymology of "skivvies" or "g-strings," what the "bejeweled undershirts" that were outlawed in London at some unspecified time looked like or the nature of the athletic "technology" developed by Under Armour will be left in the dark. Even when she does go into detail about, for instance, farthingales or how the Papua New Guinea women's maro displays marital status, instead of a helpful archival or other illustration, Kinnaird's cartoon images supply only jokey filler. A popular subject, but Lloyd Kyi never gets to the bottom of it. (further reading, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)
Booklist - Ilene Cooper
This extremely informative book takes a topic that is inherently interesting to kids and presents it in a manner that is both sprightly and nonsensational.... Beyond the 50 questions, which take readers on a worldwide, historical tour, there's even more info in the numerous sidebars that offer anecdotes, games, and embellishments on each question. All this is illustrated in amusing cartoon-style art that isn't afraid to play up what's funny about the subject.
January Magazine - India Wilson
Suggested for ages nine-plus, but the tone is sufficiently brisk and the material so fun and different, most anyone will enjoy this one.
Resource Links - Ana Malespin
A highly recommended resource for all curious readers who enjoy a good laugh.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Most kids might be surprised to find out just how much there is to tell about the part of their wardrobe they take for granted. Using a question-and-answer format, the book starts with ancient times and continues to the modern era and includes the garments and the culture and use associated with them. Sidebars include fascinating tidbits, e.g., people in medieval times soaked underwear in urine from a chamber pot to dissolve the dirt and added herbs to cover up the smell, and bits of history about what men and women wore. The book has an eye-catching design, with undergarments or cartoon characters wearing them pinned all around the pages. This will work as a fabulous booktalk for librarians looking for something fun and different to expand their nonfiction repertoire.—Esther Keller, I.S. 278, Marine Park, NY

Product Details

Annick Press, Limited
Publication date:
50 Questions Series
Product dimensions:
7.10(w) x 9.60(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
6 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Tanya Lloyd Kyi is the author of both fiction and non-fiction books for young readers, including The Lowdown on Denim and 50 Burning Questions: A Sizzling History of Fire. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Ross Kinnaird is an illustrator who has worked in London, Sydney, and Hong Kong. He currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

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50 Underwear Questions: A Bare-All History 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Heidi_G More than 1 year ago
Loincloths, crinolines, and knickerbockers--what are they and what was their purpose? You'll learn these facts and a lot more in this clever book about the undergarments worn since the beginning of mankind. The reasons for a particular style of under-things will amuse and possibly amaze you. Thoughtful consideration went into the styling of this book, with a blue plaid background on most pages being reminiscent of the fabric of boxer shorts, additional information being printed on what appears to be a fabric tag sewn into underwear and labeled "P/P Private Part," and a clothesline-type drawing across the top of most pages with underwear or sleeveless tees hanging from the line. The cartoon-like characters and drawings will cute and appropriate to the intended audience. This book will have high appeal to the 10-14 age group.