“I don’t like to read—it’s boring.” “I hate history—it’s boring.” “Science and lots of facts and details are boring.”
If the preceding statements apply to you, your children, your students, or anyone else you care about, boy do I have the book for you! How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous is perhaps the most entertaining book I have ever read that is all about history, biography, and a little bit of science and medical information. Amazon says it is for ages 10 and up, and I can personally attest that readers many decades older than 10 can not only enjoy this book immensely, but also learn a thing or two.
The subject makes this book especially attractive to reluctant boy readers, since the subject matter is death in all its icky, gory details—it’s the literary equivalent of catching crayfish in your bare hands or dropping a frog down someone’s shirt (but in a good, educational way). Croaked describes the lives and especially the deaths of 19 famous personages, from King Tut to Albert Einstein, and in each case includes a couple of extra pages of related facts about the manner of death, medicine at the time, the society of the time, and just plain interesting trivia. The chapters average only around 8 pages in length, so the reluctant reader gets plenty of chances to catch his (or her) breath before moving on.
The book’s tone is engaging—a bit snarky at times, a little tongue-in-cheek, slightly irreverent—just the sort of thing to make reading it more fun than work. It’s not stuffy enough to scare readers away! The illustrations reinforce that tone, as epitomized by the skeleton doctor on the book’s cover.
I’ve stressed the “reluctant reader” appeal of Croaked, but I also urge anyone who enjoys a good read and a plethora of fascinating facts to pick up this book—it’s to die for! You won’t be sorry.
—Steve Mudd, author
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