Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Swords, lances, bows and arrows, clubs, cannonweapons of war fill the "Warriors of History" series, which seems to be designed to capture the attention of boys who may be reluctant to read, but are well-attuned to the constant violence and bloodshed of films, games, and the daily news. Each volume introduces a military organization or cult in four chapters, and includes at least one gruesome incident for thrill value. Some of the volumes are better than others, some contain mistakesall offer unattributed illustrations (a major fault of this series), ranging from modern photographs and movie stills to period engravings, prints, or paintings. In Knights, chapters describe the conventions of knighthood, a knight's training, weapons, horses, armor, and the decline of feudal warfare. The text is often misleading; readers should know that chivalry applied only to other aristocrats (knights energetically massacred townspeople and peasants), while the Crusades, barely mentioned, need some historical perspective. Many of the selected prints are romanticized views. For example, two medieval paintings may convey the impression that all knights lived in white fairytale castles; in reality, life was gritty and many knights had only a little land and a horse. Readers seriously interested in knighthood might try Christopher Gravett's Knight (DK, 2004) or Rosemary Sutcliff's moving novel, Knight's Fee. Parents and teachers will need to decide whether a series focusing on war, violence and cruelty is appropriate for their children's classrooms. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
These books have great curb appeal. The texts are not too challenging and they're quite absorbing. Four chapters offer information on the time and place of each type of warrior, the lifestyle of the particular combatant, weapons and tools, and an explanation of the end of the era. Diagrams show each fighter fully prepared for battle. While "Learn About" bubbles are unnecessary distractions, highlighting what'll be presented in the chapter, "Edge Fact" boxes are cool. Illustrations are abundant and interesting, for the most part. Appended glossaries offer pronunciation hints. At times gruesome (one famous knight cut a horseback-riding enemy in half), these titles are always involving. They should prove to be as popular as the "Way of the Warrior" series (Children's Press, 2005).
Anne Chapman CallaghanCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.