Meet the … Ancient Greeks Meet the … Pirates / Building a Roman Fort

Meet the … Ancient Greeks
Meet the … Pirates

James Davies
Big Picture Press

Now with sturdy flexible covers, are James Davies’ most recent Meet the … books.

As with the first two titles, what characterises these is James’ exuberant writing style and the way he presents a considerable amount of information in a way that is highly engaging, gently irreverent, funny and sometimes surprising.

In Ancient Greeks, definitely one of the greatest civilisations, we find out about buildings, battles, politics, the gods, education, language, festivals, games, arts, science and more, each topic having its own spread; and the book ends with a quick look at Greece today and a timeline.

Who could fail to giggle at his cartoonish comic-strip presentations of The Twelve Labours of Heracles

and Pandora’s Box, or chuckle over the depiction of Homer writing his epic blog? And all those speech bubbles are splendidly silly.

Which brings me to the illustrations in general: the Greek spreads are rendered in orange and black (with occasional use of blue) – let’s give the last words to the final panel of Pandora’s Box – highly pertinent today …

In Meet the … Pirates – equally bursting with facts and fun – we move forwards in time a fair bit (after a Viking encounter) and come face to face with some of the most famous and fearsome pirates, the likes of Blackbeard with his famously smouldering beard and hair. EEEK! You certainly wouldn’t want to come across him or his ship on the high seas.

I was unaware of Black Bart though – the most successful pirate of the Golden Age by all accounts. And we mustn’t forget the women: apparently they weren’t actually allowed to be pirates at all but some made a pretty successful job of it from the 1500s to the late 18th century.

We also discover what life aboard ship was like, – certainly not a life for me, booty or no booty, with the likelihood of scurvy, gangrene, lost limbs and worse.

No thanks! However hard James tries in his hilarious presentation, I’ll restrict my piratical fun to reading this splutter-inducing offering from the safety of my sofa.

Again the book concludes with a look at modern day piracy and a time line.

Building a Roman Fort
Robin Twiddy
BookLife Publishing

This is one of a history series Life Long Ago that uses a child narrator – in this instance Atticus, son of a Roman centurion in AD 46 – to help make the topic accessible to a young audience.

The boy describes the process of building a fort from the outside inwards; and in addition, readers will discover the answers to where and why. They’ll learn about the various materials used, the design and more.

The text comprises speech bubbles and fact boxes that present the information succinctly using the occasional Latin word. (I was surprised to discover that a centurion was in charge of 80 not 100 men.)

There are plans and diagrams, as well as illustrations of Atticus and his family, making for a clear and informative first guide to use in a primary school topic on the Romans.