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Our Island Story: A History of Britain for Boys and Girls Paperback – January 1, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Our Island Story is...cutting edge. With its brave mix of truth and myth, it is impeccably postmodern. --The Economist, 20th August 2005

H.E. Marshall's Our Island Story, first published in 1905, must rank as one of the most influential works of history of the 20th century. --Times Educational Supplement, 7th July 2005

I used to read it to my son Henry who now, aged eight, reads it himself for pleasure, and he gets precisely the same thrill from history as I did a third of a century ago. --Andrew Roberts, The Sunday Times, 3rd July 2005 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Very little is known for certain about Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall. She was born in Scotland in 1867, the third daughter in a family of six children, and was warden of Queen Margaret Hall in Glasgow from 1901-1904. She was in Melbourne when Our Island Story was published in 1905, in Oxford from 1905 until 1908, and in Redlands, California, USA from 1913 until 1917. All else about the author of Our Island Story remains shrouded in mystery save for her abiding legacy to the world. This consists of a remarkable series of children s books that she wrote, dealing, for the most part, with the history and literature of the British people at home and elsewhere in the world where they have settled in number. Her principal books, together with the dates each was first published, are Our Island Story: A History of England for Boys and Girls (1905); Stories of Robin Hood Told to Children (1905); Stories of Guy of Warwick Told to Children (1906); Stories of William Tell Told to Children (1906); Scotland s Story: A History of Scotland for Boys and Girls (1906); Stories of Roland Told to the Children (1907); Our Empire Story: Stories of India and the Greater Colonies told to Boys and Girls (1908); Stories of Beowulf Told to the Children (1908); English Literature for Boys and Girls (1909); A History of France (1912); Through Great Britain and Ireland with Cromwell (1912); This Country of Ours (1917); and Kings and Things (1937). Henrietta Marshall never married and had no children. However, the subject matter of her books and the gentleness of their style suggest she may well have been a governess or private tutor to young children. She died in London in 1941, having spent the last part of her life in straitened circumstances, but her genius as a storyteller and educator will live on for as long as boys and girls continue to be able to open the pages of her enchanting and informative books. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Paperback: 676 pages
  • Publisher: Yesterday's Classics (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599150093
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599150093
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.5 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I purchased this version for a history living book as part of the Ambleside Online curriculum. This book spans several years and I plan to read it with three children so, all things being equal, I decided to buy the least expensive, unabridged version, figuring that bare bones would be fine as long as the content was there.
Sadly, I have not been impressed with this Wilder Publications version. It does appear to be unabridged, but the font is small, the lines are close together (explains the difference in number of pages between this and other versions), and the type is faint and thus hard to read. There is no table of contents, the chapters are not numbered, and each chapter begins a few scant lines after the end of the preceding one. This may reduce the page count, but it is definitely not reader-friendly if you are trying to find a specific chapter or lost your place in reading. In addition, the proofing was poor, as I have found several typos in the few chapters we've read so far. I expected to hand this book over to my 8-year-old to read on his own, but the mistakes could influence his understanding of the material, which, by the way, is outstanding.
All in all, I'd recommend spending a few extra bucks to buy an edition that was published with higher standards. [...]
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Format: Paperback
This is a such a fun history of England. My children love reading this book. We read a couple of chapters aloud each week. We have just started our second time through.

The chapters are relatively short. For the most part, the book is organized chronologically by King (or Queen). Each chapter (or sometimes several chapters) hits the high points of each King or Queen's reign.

Make history come alive for your children by reading this book to them.

This is a nice softcover edition. Check out the publishers other books. You can pretty much assume it is going to be interesting to your children if they have published it. I have several of their books and every one has been a hit with our family.
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Format: Paperback
I read this aloud last spring to my 3 boys, ages 10, 12, and 13. They all really enjoyed it and I enjoyed reading it.

The only (small) negative I could give it is that there are several spelling mistakes-mostly a missing letter in a word. I corrected that as we went along for the next time I read it aloud. It really wasn't a problem but I just thought I should point that out.

We are now reading the sequel about our own country (America) called "This Country of Ours" and enjoying that one as well. I can highly recommend both books, as well as "Fifty Famous Stories Retold" which is usually bought along with these two. That one is especially easy to narrate from as the stories are very short-often just 2 pages.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just so you know, in the Yesterday's Classics edition, the illustrations are not in color. I thought it wouldn't matter, but after I received the book I saw the illustrations in color online and they are sooo much more lovely! I'm returning this one for an edition with color illustrations (the one from Phoenix Press).

Aside from this, the YC edition is fine -- nice font size, easy to read.
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I am using this book with multiple ages of elementary -level kids in my homeschool. We like it overall, and will continue to use it because it is a unique kind of history book, with alot of information presented in story form rather than dry textbook-style. But this book does have 2 serious flaws.

First, we bought the Wilder edition, which lacks any chapter numbers of any kind. Small typeface, numerous typos, no pictures. This is a wretched edition. I am reading this aloud to my kids, but if they were reading it themselves, I would have rejected this and bought the Yesterday's Classics edition.

Second, I hoped we wouldn't but unfortunately we have stumbled upon some anti-Catholic bias. The most glaring so far is the chapter on Edward the Confessor, which presents him almost entirely unlikeable and different from any accurate history of King Edward-- SAINT Edward, may I add, and sainthood is not granted capriciously--that I have read. Sadly, I will have to research the rest of the topics in this book on my own so that I will be armed with facts, and will no longer be able to blindly trust H.E. Marshall's text. I like aspects of it enough to continue using it, but not without some serious fact-checking first.
2 Comments 27 of 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I found Our Island Story published by Wilder Publications to be poor quality. There is no table of contents, the chapters are not numbered, and there are no page breaks between chapters. Some chapter headings are the last line on a page while the chapter content starts on the next page. It also is missing chapters 111-114 of the original book. It is not what I consider professionally done. I try to be frugal in my book buying, but I would recommend spending the money for a higher quality book. It will save you frustration in the long run.
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We have been reading about one a week for over a year. My girls love these stories! One of our rabbits ended up with the name "Boudacia" after we read her story.
At the beginning they might be more folklore than fact, but none the less they are wonderful. There are some great moral lessons to be learned from many of the stories.
After I bought the Yesterday's Classics I found an old hardback with great color pictures. It cost a bit, but what a treasure!
Highly recommend.
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