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Raucous Royals: Test your Royal Wits: Crack Codes, Solve Mysteries, and Deduce WhichRoyal Rumors are True Hardcover – September 1, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4–8—This lighthearted look at historical rumors about European rulers from Vlad Dracula to George III is full of humor, interesting facts, and insightful perspectives. Some of the rumors turn out to be true (Henry VIII's weight), some are false (Louis XIV's bathing habits), and several are still undecided (Richard III as a murderer). Examining their veracity is a clever hook that leads into a fascinating look at how gossip, literature, and other unreliable sources can be taken as truth over time. The author provides just enough introductory context and shares well-chosen anecdotes and facts in an engaging conversational style. Varied approaches keep each section fresh: a mock casebook presents the "rumor suspects" regarding the death of Catherine the Great, for example, and opposing arguments from fictional historians show both sides of the question of Peter the Great's actual "greatness." Comic portraits and other illustrations add to the irreverent tone. Mary I reaches from her picture frame to grab the crown of Elizabeth in one scene, and a lineup of males against a wall demonstrates Napoleon's taller-than-average stature, among other funny examples. The conclusion offers tips on how to use research to gauge the accuracy of historical rumors, and a bibliography cites multiple sources for each figure covered in the book. This humorous approach to history has strong booktalk potential, and also serves as a compelling introduction to the notion that separating fact from fiction can be challenging and fun.—Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This entertaining collective biography looks at rumors about a dozen royal figures and presents evidence of each tale’s truth or falsehood. The discussion begins with Prince Dracula (a real vampire?) and Richard III (a hunchback? murdered his nephews?), spotlights five colorful Tudors, then moves on to six later figures, including Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake”?) and Catherine the Great (crushed by her horse?). Noting the invention of the printing press in 1440, Beccia draws an intriguing connection between today’s rumor-filled tabloids and fifteenth-century pamphlets smearing Vlad Dracula (aka Vlad the Impaler). Nicely designed and fully illustrated with caricatured digital images sometimes inspired by period portraits, the book looks inviting and the lively text is consistently entertaining. The final section suggests how students can research historical rumors. A bibliography and a few source notes are appended. Though other history books have more substance, choose this one to engage readers in critical thinking about the “facts.” Grades 4-7. --Carolyn Phelan
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Delving into the truths behind statements concerning an assorted cast of royal characters, Beccia encourages young historians to dig into the facts behind commonly espoused beliefs on the appearance, character, and behaviour of these famous figures. A select group of thirteen royals from the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries are included in this 64-page picture book.
Did Marie Antoinnete say, "Let them eat cake."? Was Empress Catherine the Great killed beneath her horse? Did Richard III kill his nephews? Was Queen Elizabeth I afraid of mice? These questions amongst others are examined in light of the available facts, removing hearsay from the picture entirely. Some of the answers might surprise you - I was shocked to learn that some of the historical "facts" my father had passed on to me as a girl were patently untrue; in fact, they were very persistent pieces of rumour mongering. Through Beccia's careful examination of the facts, readers will discover whether these - and many other - reports are true, false or unconfirmed.
Far from descending into dry, eye-rolling accounts, Beccia has created a uniquely engaging history resource filled with irreverent illustrations, trivia, quizzes and secret codes. A variety of creative visual techniques are employed to present historical facts in a captivating manner; illustrated graphs, letters, timelines, and authentic portraits are combined with Beccia's original artwork for a sumptuous visual presentation.
Yes, you read that right. Not only did Beccia write the text of Raucous Royals, she also designed and illustrated the book. In addition, then, to being a talented author and amateur historian she is a gifted artist as well. Her oftentimes-comedic interpretations of the royals combined with off-colour historical facts left me laughing out loud on more than one ocassion. Did you know that in seventeenth century France wealthy men and women would rub puppy urine on their faces to improve their complexion? Pair this factoid with an illustration of a smiling woman holding a bewildered puppy near her face and see if you can avoid laughing - I couldn't. Indeed, an assortment of such indispensable historical facts can be yours to add to your trivia repertoire to keep on hand for lulls in conversations.
Being familiar with some of the ribald behaviours of royalty, as well as having had some raunchy rumours whispered into my ear, I was somewhat concerned with the presentation of risqué subject matter in this title. Beccia exercised tact and caution, politely rephrasing and rephrasing the wildest of the accusations to keep this book appropriate for young children. As a parent, I'm deeply grateful that the Raucous Royals managed to be educational and entertaining without passing into PG-13 (and far beyond) territory.
Printed as a sturdy hardcover with reinforced binding, Raucous Royals is ready and willing to withstand repeated use in the home by both the intended age group (9-12 years), younger siblings who are fascinated by the artwork, and parents. I had a number of chuckles, and caught my husband reading it a few times as well, after which he shared some new facts he'd learned with me. It should also withstand many readings in school, public, and classroom libraries where it is sure to become a staple.
With an extensive bibliography and Beccia's recommendation to search out primary sources for themselves before believing a historical rumour, a newly enlivened interest in history is sure to result for many young readers.
Instantaneously this book will grab your attention with its gorgeous cover, regal writing, royal colours and cleverly amusing illustrations. A deliciously tempting visual fest, The Raucous Royals is filled with the most outrageous historical rumors that instantly captivate the interest. Your child will want to find out -Did that happen? That's so funny! That didn't happen!...Or, did it? No way to find out but to keep on reading; and that's what will happen cause your child won't let you put it down.
Carlyn Beccia (check out her blog)is a fantastic author! She has devised a sure way to whet a child's appetite for history. The book is filled with guessing games, secret codes, experiments, quizzes and the most hilarious, almost caricature-like illustrations ever. And that's only the half of it...the best part is savored in the history! That's where you discover whether King Richard really did murder his nephews; or whether Anne Boleyn had six fingers; if Mary Queen of Scots plotted to assassinate her cousin Elizabeth I-or- if King Louis XIV took only three baths in his life! What?!
All rumors? Or fact? You won't be misled. Everything is explained with clarity, fun, and complete accuracy. Carlyn Beccia's work reveals itself as intelligent, witty, creative and well researched. The Raucous Royals is filled with interactive, thought provoking questions and topics that trigger the mind. Your child will love using his detective instincts to search and find out the truth while learning interesting historical facts. I just can't say enough about the presentation and content of this book. Well written and beautifully illustrated; the book will captivate young children, while being sophisticated enough to keep older teens just as enthralled.
The perfect blend between historical accuracy and splendor in creative entertainment, The Raucous Royals depicts history through an amazingly unique and enticing approach that will have kids falling in love with the past.