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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Review of The Story of the Olympics by Richard Brassey

Colourful, fun account of the Games through history

Published a year ago, this is the ideal choice for youngsters who developed an interest in the Games this summer.

The book comes in a 32-page picture book format, and you could imagine that a Story of the Olympics could be quite dense, trying to pack centuries of history into 13 spreads. You'd be quite wrong, however, and the book's strength lies in its selective approach, offering details while accepting that it doesn't need to cover everything that could possibly be known about the Olympics. Typically for Richard Brassey, there is a surprising amount of information on offer here using the minimum amount of text possible, together with quirky illustrations. Brassey has a real talent for selecting the facts most likely to appeal to his child readers, and illustrating them with delightfully realistic comic strip images.

There are spreads on particular aspects of the Olympics - Ancient Games, the marathon, women, politics - and snippets about each of the Modern Games, often homing in on particular athletes. The book closes with information about the London Games and 2016's Games in Rio de Janeiro.

I would recommend this for quite a wide age range. The material is intrinsically interesting (and very well-selected), and presented in a way that would not patronise or exclude older readers. I can see beginner readers enjoying this with an adult and children into secondary school still enjoying it.

From the back cover:

For a thousand years Olympic competitors didn't wear any clothes ...

In 1912 a marathon runner fell asleep by the roadside. He finished the course in 1966...

For nearly a century, women weren't allowed to run the marathon - in case they exhausted themselves!

The extraordinary story of the Olympic Games, from their beginnings in Ancient Greece right up to the London Olympics of 2012, and the funny, surprising, heroic exploits of winners and losers from all over the world.

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Published September 2011 by Orion Children's
My grateful thanks to the publisher for sending a review copy
Check out The Story of the Olympics at Amazon UK

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