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Go to Jail!: A Look at Prisons through the Ages

Go to Jail!: A Look at Prisons through the Ages

by Peter Kent, Peter Behind Kent

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 3-5--Partial cutaway views of prisons in use from 1534 to 1943 provide a look at their layout and structure. Although torture and prisoner treatment are shown as small parts of most of the detailed double-page drawings, accommodations appear to be neat and clean. However, text descriptions make it clear that none of these places of confinement were pleasant. Each scene features a famous prisoner who can be identified by referring to a picture and mention of his or her place of incarceration and crime in the "Rogues' Gallery" located at the beginning and end of the book. They include Sir Thomas More, Charles Dickens's fictional Abel Magwitch, Catherine Reniers, Al Capone, and Josef Stalin. Readers are also encouraged to spot members of "The Incarcerated Cast" (the head jailer, the prisoner intent on escape, etc.) in each locale. A two-page section describes and illustrates "Peculiar Prisons" such as the Antwerp Zoo during World War II, and a log lattice-covered pit in Java, Indonesia. Though lacking an index or a bibliography, this is an entertaining way to learn something about such far flung penal facilities as the Doge's Prison in Italy, shipboard "hulk" prisons in England and the U.S., and banishment to Siberia or Devil's Island.--Ann G. Brouse, Big Flats Branch Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Kent's handsomely drawn book introduces prisons of every crank and radius: prisons without walls (Devil's Island, Siberia); prisons little but walls (the Bastille, the Tower of London); prisons for the most notorious criminals (Alcatraz); prisons for folks who had committed no crime, other than being on the wrong side (prisoner-of-war camps, e.g., Stalag Luft III); and oddball prisons (a hole in the ground, a hollow tree). For the 18 prisons covered, the illustrations are mostly cheerful, as is the text, taking the sting out of what must be a most intensely unpleasant experience; even those being tortured provoke little horror or disgust (though the figures, which are Waldo-like small and swarming, can't convey much emotion). Jailers earn the adjectives lazy, inefficient, brutal, and nasty, while prisoners are almost always viewed as victims of filth and overcrowding who were often lonely. To further temper the subject, Kent has made a game of the book: readers are urged to ferret out particular rogues and prison types, as well as pet animals (such as cockroaches) in each setting. It's odd and fascinating material, if a bit antiseptic. (Picture book. 8-12)

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.87(w) x 12.26(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

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